Copycat in the gallery

Dear Artist, Yesterday, Jaye Alison Moscariello of Mendocino, California wrote, “A year ago I moved to the West Coast and joined an artist collective. With the incredible inspiration of the new area, my work changed dramatically. I wanted to capture the best part of the vast landscape. I began making very long horizontal watercolors. People responded. Another member told me he liked my work and then he started to do the same thing — same format, same subjects, even similar titles. I feel awful that he is placing his work so close to mine. Now he’s selling prints of his work. I know competition is healthy, it’s just that I came to that format organically. How should I respond? His wife is the gallery director.”

“Natural world series – Splash!”
watercolour painting, 23 x 2 inches
by Jaye Alison Moscariello

Thanks, Jaye. While you’re probably not the first to use the long format, nor will you be the last, it is aggravating when this sort of thing hits so close to home. It’s a jungle out there. Predators are ready to snap up your babes. But take heart, by the looks of your website you’re capable of a wide range of styles and motifs. I’m sure your imagination will outrun that of your entrepreneurial and well-connected copycat. FYI, we’ve put a selection of Jaye’s work at the bottom of this letter. It’s not so much a matter of authenticity versus ersatz, it’s a matter of the shaky validity of prior claim. The general public doesn’t often know, and dealers don’t often care. No matter how the world turns, the evolved artist learns to keep her spirits up, her head down and her attention on her own processes. While there are plenty who would deny it, art is a doing thing, not to be sullied with public response. My advice: Keep supplying your work to the gallery, but don’t hang out there. Look for other galleries, collectives and friends who may not be as likely to clone. Your success is your calling card. Take control and put galleries in your stable, not you in theirs. Keep pursuing your private bliss. Your natural curiosity, creative flair and good work habits will take you to your next epiphany. Above all, hold no bitterness toward your admirer. His story is one of the oldest, but it can be the very source of development, progress and innovation. Like it or not, we are all small actors on the great stage of Creative Darwinism.

“Chase the monkey series – Empty Chair”
pen and ink, gouache, 12 x 9 inches
by Jaye Alison Moscariello

Best regards, Robert PS: “Those who follow are always behind.” (A. Y. Jackson) Esoterica: “Is it possible to copyright a mountain?” a friend asked me recently. He had done the same one so many times he thought he had a right to be its personal painter. I mentioned the Canadian watercolourist and printmaker Walter J. Phillips, who had wondered the same about Mt. Rundle, near Banff, Alberta. “It’s my bread and butter mountain,” he used to say. Phillips has gone now but the mountain is still looking for its greater master.   Jaye Alison Moscariello — Mendocino series

“Home Again”
watercolour 16 x 2.5 inches


“Barn at the Red House”
watercolour 15 x 4 inches


“Mendocino Coastline”
watercolour 15 x 3 inches


“Sunsetting after Storm”
watercolour 14.5 x 1.78 inches

  Jaye Alison Moscariello – Other work

“Chase the monkey series – Tsunami Warning”
pen and ink, gouache
12 x 9 inches


“The Narratives series – Pears and Fish”
mixed water-media
24 x 18 inches


“The Narratives series – Hope Prevails”
mixed water-media
33 x 28 inches


“The Narratives series – Absence Deeply Felt”
mixed water-media
31 x 26 inches


“Pool series – Disappeared”
acrylic and oil painting
8 x 8 inches


“Drawings – Beginning Darwin”
pen and ink
15 x 10 inches


“Drawings – Middle Sky”
pen and ink 10 x 7 inches


“Pool series – Remain Calm”
acrylic and oil painting 36 x 12 inches

          Unprofessional behaviour by William McAllister, Bath, Bristol, UK  

“Covington, GA”
watercolour painting
by William McAllister

They say it’s flattery, but it does hurt when imitators jump right into the middle of your own, organic, artistic evolution. Jaye, you are the original. Keep doing your own work, and consider that this gallery director is certainly not the person you want representing your work. That she would not object to her husband’s lack of artistic restraint, but indeed exhibits his work in the same venue as yours is not very professional. There is 1 comment for Unprofessional behaviour by William McAllister
From: Brian Bastedo — Nov 21, 2010

Nice piece of work, William!! It sparkles with fresh colors, andleads my eyes to dance around the light and dark values. Your comments on the poor choices of one gallery director were on the money.

  Making Art is Job One by Loretta West, Spokane,WA, USA  

“Head Over Heels”
watercolour painting
by Loretta West

I would advise any artist to try to avoid a gallery where the owner shows their own work or those of family members. In my experience the work of the owner and or family member’s work is usually promoted ahead of other artist’s work and things can get sticky. It is not always apparent at first blush if this is happening in a gallery, but it helps to visit a few times and ask around before moving forward. Showing your work in galleries these days is a mine field and what helps me when I get bogged down in marketing and other business is to remember that Making Art is Job One. It is what I am here for and will continue to do regardless of circumstance. I find that if I stick to this maxim and trust my instincts in other matters then those matters tend to sort themselves out and push me forward in a newer and better direction.   Negativity harmful by Becki Trachsel Hesedahl, Ward Cove, Alaska, USA  

watercolour painting
by Becki Trachsel Hesedahl

The copycat can be very disheartening, I agree. Especially when this person has the connections you mentioned. Robert’s words of wisdom, “Above all, hold no bitterness toward your admirer.” That is the most important lesson here. The negative energy would only hurt you, not the copycat. On a brighter note, the paintings of Jaye Alison Moscariello are beautiful. Keep going! I love the horizontal format on the landscapes. This week I have also been thinking about the wide horizontal format for my SE Alaska paintings. The landscape is so vast that it is hard to contain each scene into one painting because everywhere I look there is so much more. When I moved here four months ago from Oregon I wasn’t sure if I would find things to paint. I now know there will never be enough time to paint it all. There is not the bright color of autumn that we have in the Willamette Valley of Oregon but the subtle shades and shifts in color convey a special and mysterious mood up here. I am just getting started and am excited that there is so much to explore.   Stay three jumps ahead by Theresa Bayer, Austin, TX, USA  

“Feed Me!”
oil painting
by Theresa Bayer

When copycats start imitating, it’s time to move on. It’s ideal to stay about three jumps ahead. Being capable of a wide range of styles and motifs allows an artist enough flexibility to leap ahead to the next thing. Your advice not to worry, but instead to look to one’s own resources is spot on. Another strategy would be to focus very tightly and develop a signature technique to the point where it would be difficult to imitate. At the same time, I see nothing wrong in being inspired by a single aspect of another’s work because different artists will interpret such things differently. However, there is a big difference between that and trying to appropriate someone else’s whole shtick.   Inspired by panoramic large format by Bill Skuce, Sooke, BC, Canada  

original painting
by Bill Skuce

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria featured a retrospective five years ago of the paintings of Takao Tanabe, a prominent Canadian artist since the 1960s. The show’s most stunning works were several realistic landscapes in a 20 foot by 4 foot format. The scale left me breathless. On the threshold of revisiting landscape painting I decided to adopt the panoramic format of these inspirational works of Tanabe’s only on a much more manageable scale, e.g. 8 inch by 30 inch and the like. Trying it opened an exciting new phase for me that continued for several years. When I noticed other panoramic work showing up in my neck of the woods after I exhibited a body of them, I simply considered it a nice form of flattery. (Equally as encouraging as the paintings of Tenabe was that he was 80 years old and still going strong when he had completed the twenty footers.)   Wisdom from an Indian Master by Mantradevi LoCicero, Nevada City, CA, USA  

“Great White Egrets”
watercolour painting
by Mantradevi LoCicero

I’m sympathetic to Jaye’s dilemma of having another artist in such close proximity imitate her work. It’s a bit like having an annoying younger sibling following you around. No one likes that. On the other hand, whether we like it or not, that’s largely how human beings learn, from the example of others. Children imitate their parents, and then, hopefully, develop into their own style of person. When I see someone imitating what I do, and it irks me, I think of something the great Indian Master, Paramhansa Yogananda, said, “An artist doesn’t really create anything — he just rearranges what is already there.” It helps me put myself into perspective with the great Creator who gave us all the tools and examples in the first place. I like what Robert said about keeping our heads down and our attention on our own processes. The spirit of our own “original” creativity will shine through.   Direct influence on an artist’s vision by Phil Carroll, USA  

oil painting
by Phil Carroll

I wanted to respond to Jaye’s concerns and I agree that the format has been used for years. I myself use a similar format and so does Dan Chard a realist painter from New Jersey who shows with OK Harris in New York. He started his career with exactly the same size format of a couple inches to 12 inches in the 1980s when he changed from an abstract painter to realism. Having said that, I agree it can be annoying to have what you feel is yours copied by another. But do not despair, we have all had similar experiences and I would see it as a plus, rather than a minus, that you have directly influenced the artistic vision of a fellow artist.   If it’s any good they will steal it! by Ellen Kochansky, Pickens, SC, USA  

quilt, 72 x 96 inches
by Ellen Kochansky

I love your voice, invariably one of calm and humor as well as wisdom in this frantic art-life. This post especially appealed to me, and resonates with the experiences I and many colleagues in my area, fine crafts, have experienced. The artists who spend all their time looking over their shoulders and suing the knock-off artists are invariably the ones who fear they will never have another good idea. As I learned in the fashion business, a particularly predatory one, “Keep moving, Baby! Of course they’ll steal it if it’s any good!”     There are 2 comments for If it’s any good they will steal it! by Ellen Kochansky
From: suzanne jensen — Nov 16, 2010

that quilt is simply stunning thank you for showing it to us

From: babahr — Feb 11, 2011

I second Suzanne’s comment. Wonderful, wonderful quilt. I would love to have this hanging on my wall.

  Don’t copy one’s self too much by Alex Nodopaka, Lake Forest, CA, USA  

“Caress 20”
bronze sculpture
by Alex Nodopaka

Oh by Jove! Picasso and Dali and every Impressionist must turn in their graves with millions of copycats! But in support of Ms. Jaye, I say let them copy you as long as you stay ahead of the game. And the name of the game is to not copy one’s self too much. Seriously, don’t you think that after 100 or so paintings in the same format you may tire of them yourself? After all, it is the subject matter that must be treated in an, if not striking then, original manner. Don’t be pigeonholed by your own format. The cage is only an eyelid… it’s the gaze that counts. I recently came back from a lengthy Antibes and Venice vacation and assure you that the book of postcard photos I did of the cities has been done millions of times before me yet I found untold pleasure in photographing and many admirers of my photographic renditions.   Copycats keep us on our toes by Tedde Ready, Atascadero, CA, USA   There is no way to stop copycats or knockoff ‘artists’ and, given that basic truth, have always tried to encourage the knock-offees that there is real purpose to those who are less than original. They keep the ‘good guys’ on their toes and are a constant push to keep moving forward, and doing what ‘real artists’ do best, being enormously creative. The justice is in the personal satisfaction. In a less than perfect world, it’s not such a bad payoff.  

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Copycat in the gallery

From: Cato from Australia — Nov 11, 2010

Hi, I had this happen to me, I got a lovely little idea and I was copied. But I know that I was copied and she knows she copied me. This makes hers 2nd best, I reckon. And in the end it’s nothing to do with the format, or the idea, it’s what you do in that format and how well you pull it off. And I feel that the original thinker is the one who will pull off the best use of their own idea. Makes sense.

From: Robert Sesco — Nov 12, 2010

Robert, your comments were about as wise as I’ve read from you. Of the many contexts within which copying an artist makes sense, being inspired by someone ranks up there. To compete directly with that artist with technique or composition borrowed from them, to my mind, simply shows a lack of class, and the only way to escape the classless is to paint alone. The analogy that comes to mind are those of us who have loved, been hurt, then struggle with exposing ourselves to that hurt again. Nevertheless, an open heart IS necessary to find love again. Our artist was inspired by the group. One of the group is hurting him. In my opinion our artist has no choice but to continue loving, perhaps accept the challenge and improve the concept yet again beyond the abilities of the copycat, become the leader of a group of artists that become known for their horizontal watercolors, or any of the wise choices you advised. In the music world, some of our finest innovators LEARNED their craft by a note-for-note copying of someone who inspired them. They played these memorizations for the paying public until they created their own works. Some interesting analogies to consider in this.

From: Dar Hosta — Nov 12, 2010

Jaye, I, personally, find your other styles more dynamic than your landscapes… what about doing those in long format? I agree, the public likes long format. Maybe you can keep the dimensions and experiment with the style. Nice work all around.

From: Jackie Knott — Nov 12, 2010

I would be so tempted to mess with this guy’s head. Up the ante. Go larger, say 4′ x 6″, expand your subject matter, and yes, apply your other style of painting to the long format. Definitely find other galleries (the second problem here).

A artist with no conviction will continue to copy until he loses sight of what he thought was a good idea. He may abandon one or the other of your ideas.Then settle in to what you want to paint. Fine work, by the way.
From: Susan Holland — Nov 12, 2010

Your older art is full of innovation and personal originality. Wonderful stuff to look at…engaging, to say the least. Your lovely landscapes show such a good eye for composition and color. I cannot imagine you not finding an unimitable approach to your new art (new beginnings are darwinian too) that will not be easy to copy or compete with. Love your work.

From: EVC — Nov 12, 2010

Jaye, I also find your other styles much more interesting and compelling.

From: Kirk — Nov 12, 2010

Bad artists copy. Good artists steal.

Pablo Picasso
From: Joyce Wycoff — Nov 12, 2010

Jaye … your work is so creative and beautiful that I think Robert’s advice is right on … you can out-create anyone whose only resource is copying. Love your work … both the old and the new.

From: LD Tennessee — Nov 12, 2010

I have to say, this copycat has real nerve! They say that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” or something like that…lol. Coincidentally, I just purchased some canvases that are 6″x18″ simply because they were on sale and the different size intrigued me since I usually use rectangular or square ones. Perhaps this fellow was inspired by your beautiful art on long canvas; but the individual artist’s talent always takes top billing…so keep up the good work and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing yours was first and made a great impression on a fellow artist. Isn’t our purpose to inspire through our art? It’s apparent that you did!

From: Mark — Nov 12, 2010

How interesting that his wife should be the gallery director and have this happen.

You would think perhaps over dinner conversations or morning coffee the subject would be broached regarding his change of format and style. One has to wonder if you’ve spoken to either of them and mentioned your concerns? Copy artists are usually playing catch-up and you may be looking at a talent-challenged “ersatz”. There also may be an opportunity for you to provide a quid pro quo through a critique of his copied work leading him to be complete it what’s wrong and how he could improve on it in the future.
From: Thierry Talon — Nov 12, 2010

Another tempest in a tea cup. But Robert says it much better and more subtly.

From: John Ferrie — Nov 12, 2010

Wait a Minute! You made some ground breaking break through in your work and brought it to your gallery. Then, mysteriously, another artist in the same coral started painting the EXACT same thing! And his wife is the director of the gallery? She is not only showing the copied works, but putting them close to yours! What kind of gallery are you with? This is the most horrible thing I have ever heard! Is there a fresh batch of Rembrandts arriving shortly! This gallery is not worth its weight in salt. I would go over there first thing int he morning, pack up ALL of my paintings and take them out of there. A gallery is suppose to sell the artist and their specific brand. Is the director telling their spouse to paint like you? Take your ball out of the playground and go find a new place to show and tell.

The sad thing is we think that being with a gallery is the only way to be a success as an artist. Never fear your competition, but when someone is looking over your shoulder…MOVE ON!
From: suzette Fram — Nov 12, 2010

Jaye, I think you shouldn’t bother to compete with him. Try to place your beautiful long landscapes in a different gallery, and produce something different for this gallery. Take the long ones right out of there, unless you can come up with some different way of doing them so they’re different from this guy’s. Obviously both he and his wife are low on ethics, but just the same, that is the world we live in and adopting methods of other artists into our own work is done all the time. Size or format is not something you can trademark and keep all to yourself. Ignore him and keep doing your thing.

From: Carole Pigott — Nov 12, 2010

Years ago I went to a museum showing where the artist had copied several paintings of mine published in an American Artist Magazine article along with several a decorator had “borrowed” and obviously loaned to the artist to copy.

After the first rush of shock and anger passed, I realized she had done an excellent job of copying my work, and if it was that easy to do, I needed to push my work to a higher level and where the execution was not so obvious. In the long run it lead me to work hard to create my own style. Lemons to lemonade……
From: George Robertson — Nov 12, 2010

“We are all small actors on the great stage of Creative Darwinism.” A nice line, Robert. One to remember. Thank you for framing an important truth in such a palatable fashion.

From: Paul deMarrais — Nov 12, 2010

Creative ideas are constantly pilfered by businesses and individuals nowadays. If I invented a clever new craft technique and took it on the road, very soon someone else would be creating a lookalike to cash in on my idea. As you state, a long horizontal composition is not a new idea. No artist owns patents on its use. Usually an admirer will have the sensitivity not to copy the look and format of an artist who is a member of the same group! No one wants to be perceived as a ‘copycat’. Painting is an evolutionary process, so it would be my hope that this artist would evolve into another format at some point anyway. Too often artists get caught up in the commercial success of one painting or one style and think that they should just do it over and over again for the rest of their days. In the short run, in this instance, the political problems dictate this artist look elsewhere to exhibit. She could simply change her attitude about the whole affair. She could take it far less seriously and laugh it off as a form of clumsy flattery by the copycat perpetrator and move on to new subjects and formats. You have to pick your battles carefully in life and I don’t feel this battle for this artist is worth fighting. The outcome could only be unfavorable.

From: Valerie Kent — Nov 12, 2010

As a long time workshop leader, I know that participants in workshops learn by imitation of mine and others’ works. I have been startled sometimes walking into a gallery or an art show somewhere and seeing work by myself or other workshop leaders I know well, and then going up to the piece and seeing someone else’s name on it. Lots of times the work is a lot better than my original. Bravo to the artist. Yes, I know that work done in workshops is “not supposed” to be shown commercially, but with that good-looking piece sitting there at home, the temptation is overwhelming to show what has been done. Newer artists may not have a great body of work. The better their work is, the better they make me look. So, bravo to me. As it is said in Newfoundland, “It makes me no never mind!”

From: Zariah — Nov 12, 2010

What great wisdom and advice you give here, Robert!! :)

From: Joseph Jahn — Nov 12, 2010

Good Day Jaye,

Compete directly with your copy cat. Strive to make yours, better, stronger, more unique. Take it with a laugh, a smile. You will either crush him with your talent or you will take your work to the next level. Either way, you win. By the look of your former work, I vote for crushing……. It’s fun to compete.
From: Lisa Schaus — Nov 12, 2010

I need to be candid about this copy cat episode. Jaye your “other work” is far more captivating, and the long, horizontal format is not only common place, but lacking in integrity. Please accept my comments as a positive for you and know that Robert is quite diplomatic and generous with his viewpoints. I would ditch the whole genre and move back into “you”. Marketing can destroy an artist faster than a speeding bullet.

From: alison wood ms — Nov 12, 2010

My copycat was an in-law. Copied style, palette, frames, cardstock (for selling cards). One painting could have been a “painting by numbers” rip off. I admit that if my ego were larger I would have just laughed it off but.. I am not there yet. It is definitely a sign of insecurity (on the copier’s part) but that doesn’t make it any less annoying. Being a family member, it is somehow even more invasive!!!

From: Rick Rotante — Nov 12, 2010

The thing about copy-cats is eventually they have no original ideas of their own and either copy comeone else or go away. Now the gallery owner being the spouse is another matter. I wouldn’t be surprised if she hasn’t recomended coping other artists as well from time to time. Don’t worry too much and move on if you can. You do what you do and let the world be damned.

From: Joan Polishook — Nov 12, 2010

I cannot help but smile and say to the artist, “be flattered’ that your creations have inspired another. I understand and know first-hand the underlying feelings of having someone else use and profit from one’s ideas. Case in point : My innovative free plein air program for artists started15 years ago and is still going strong. It has provided opportunity and benefited more than 100 local artists in my area as we share our knowledge and expertise in art with each other in the great outdoors.

An artist joined us as a first time watercolorist, and was inspired to further professional study. Today, quite accomplished and an active member of the arts community, the artist’s paintings and prints are well sought after. Recently, the artist also started a plein air group duplicating visits to several of my program’s choice venues, but NOT free of charge. While this has raised eyebrows among a number of artists who regularly paint with me, I with mixed feelings, simply smile and say, “Good luck…glad I am doing something that is so inspiring to others.” Pike County, PA
From: Karla Pearce — Nov 12, 2010

I tell my students that having their work copied by another artist is the highest form of complement. I go even further and allow them to copy mine, take pictures, whatever can be used for inspiration. To think you can own any type or style of painting is just flat out silly. It shows a deep insecurity on the part of the offended artist.

Castlegar, B.C. Canada
From: Bill Kerr — Nov 12, 2010

W. J. Phillips, who you mentioned in “Esoterica”, has been prominently displayed in Banff venues for decades. When I was first exposed to his work it seemed very familiar to me. It was not until years later when showing a Phillips piece in a book to a water colour student I realized why. This student pointed out the W.J. Phillips was an illustrator for many Canadian History school books.

From: Hiria Ratahi — Nov 12, 2010

There are a lot of wisdom in the previous comments. I have enjoyed looking at your work. Perhaps taking it onboard as a learning point. It won’t be long and that person will be off looking and using someone else’s work. It is an honour in a funny sort of way that he liked your work. I do abstract texture paintings and often artists ask me what do I use, I only share it with artists from another city or country, just to protect my little niche and I make sure that it is put away in my little studio so prying eyes don’t pick up the idea. Thank you for raising this for the rest of us. You……by far are the winner in this issue, continue on your wonderful journey of discovering new ways of doing your art.

From: Janet Summers-Tembeli — Nov 12, 2010

As I have often been copied I can relate to the anger, but I always say ” you can copy my idea, colors, etc. but you can never create it as I have.”

From: Richard Mazzarino — Nov 13, 2010

I was invited into a figure show once. When I attended opening night and looked at the work exhibited I was appalled that someone had taken Playboy images and painted them signing his

own name to the works. I was in shock. I don’t think anyone else read playboy at that time so they didn’t expell him from the show.
From: Adam — Nov 13, 2010

I’m no saint. I’ve copied outright, purposely taken the idea’s of another and put them onto canvas and said “ah ha!”.

Though it lacked a certain je ne sais quoi, it was clearly enough to be something. I wanted what might have felt like an upper level. I did it, showed it — but selling it, I couldn’t do it. I respect the artist who’s work I used, respect the talent technique and training and in retrospect it lacked a private moment for me. It wasn’t mine; I was sharing it with the true creator. The work eventually was hid amongst the canvases and to this day rests as a reminder of another time. Since then, I have found pleasure in creating my own works despite all the trials attached. I imagine we are the fortunate ones. I’m no saint, but sometimes crossing the line helps us get to the other side.
From: Jaye Moscariello — Nov 13, 2010

I am so moved by the number of artists who have written to me because of your generosity and insight in your response to me. And thank you so much for your thoughtful response, truly! I did take the bull by the horns, so to speak, and had a conversation with the artist in question. He didn’t realize that I’d felt that way, and was open to our conversation. It was good, no harm done, and I feel better for having spoken to him. His own work is quite good, he was just “playing” with this format I was doing, and after speaking with him I just said, “do whatever you feel like doing, I just needed to communicate how it felt to me.” And you know, being an artist, you can’t tell or ask any other artist what to paint or not paint.

Your words are gems and thank you for putting my work on Painters Keys.
From: John Smith — Nov 13, 2010

I would like to paint into each painting a little tortoise or dragonfly or something and then put out the word that any copy of my work that did not have my secret symbol in it is a fraud. It would drive my copyists crazy trying to find what that secret symbol is and where. We live in a totally dishonest world so Robert Genn is partly right and all we can do is get so good that these people have no hope in copying us. We just have to work ten times harder.

Durban, SA
From: Roberta Buckles — Nov 13, 2010

This story is a very old one. Picasso was very well known for stealing ideas and processes from his art compatriots. So much so, they would hide their work, because if he took a liking to it, he would not only copy the style, but do it better!

From: Selma Petracyk — Nov 15, 2010

There are a variety of ways to copy. (I’m going to re-open and already over-ripe can of worms here.) I saw a local artist gaining some recognition. He initially did inks, but eventually began producing watercolors of distinctly local, sometimes touristy, sites. What I could not understand was how his drawing was so on the money, but how incredibly unskilled was his use of color. Then someone told me. He was using projection. Now, his day job was not illustration, he simply took a course at a local evening vocational tech school and learned to copy projection. Then I noticed how poorly signed the inks were, despite their being drawn effectively. Also, I began to see the projection distortions. How it is that so many people were willing to pay for such poor use of color and painting technique is beyond me. Additionally, I began to discern that many of the touristy pictures were pretty commonplace. What I mean by that is, they seemed to be exactly composed as other work I’d seen. Perhaps they were from published photos, perhaps from personal photos from similar location and position and lighting. I don’t know. On the local scene this character is much more of a success that am I, who paints predominantly en plein air, or from my own digitals. And since so much of the art world runs on personal taste, I hardly ever speak of this issue. But, personally? I think this clown is a copiest, and not even of the first water.

From: Darla — Nov 16, 2010

I admit it, I copy other artists. But you’d never know it, because what I actually do is decide what single thing I like most about their paintings and try it with a different subject, perhaps different palette, media, format, etc. The single thing could be a color combination, brush work, use of contrasts or the gleam of light on an edge. Looking at others’ art is only a starting point for when I’m stuck and need to try something different.

From: Jan Ross — Nov 16, 2010

I truly sympathize with the artists whose work has been copied! This has happened to me in a way that my painting was used for someone else’s commercial venture, ie. my painting was printed on t-shirts, mugs, etc. sold at a major sporting event. While one is told imitation is the highest form of flattery, it’s difficult to feel that way when you see creation being used for someone else’s profit. Also, I know an artist who has not painted a single original idea, only copied from books/workshop instructors/art magazines, etc. She is constantly frustrated because she ‘runs out of ideas’. Her technical skills are impressive, so much so she’s received numerous awards in juried shows for these copies. During times like these I remind myself, “Life just ain’t fair” and return to doing what I love most, painting something that has moved me in the hopes it will move a viewer/patron.

From: Esther J. Williams — Nov 18, 2010

Jaye, I get the feeling that this artist does not have any scruples. When you had a talk with him, did he even apologize? The gallery director has practiced dirty politics and should be ashamed of herself. You brought a unique viewpoint into the gallery and it is a shame someone tried to capitalize on your success. People come in all types of personalities and in a social world as an artist, we are going to be subject to many off the wall types. That wasn`t meant as a pun, I just run into some very strange artists all the time. My experiences have brought me to the conviction that I can`t change their behavior, but I can change myself. So everyday I get to the easle, I begin a new change, it is easy. Keep growing and surprising them with new creative works. We can rise up and above as we dedicate ourselves to producing unique, quality art that follows the true path of it`s creator.

From: Rick Rotante — Nov 21, 2010

The main problem with copying is it gets old for the artist and eventually they stop or get bored. Copying damages your eye as well as you drawing skills. After too much of this you lose your ability to draw freely at all. Technique suffers as well as execution. Subject matter isn’t personal and therefore lacks continuity ,progression and evolution.

That said I copy the masters all the time. I try and get the best repoduction I can and try and get an understanding of how it was painted. I don’t slavishly try for exactness, I try to get the feel for the paint, the strokes, the color. When all is said and done, I incorporate this knowledge into my being, trying to ameliorate it into who I am and my processes. We are all a combination of outside influences artististic and intellectual as well as social. In the end I always acknowledge the original source if I show these to others. Most people recognize it as a copy. I never claim it as my own. The projectionist and the copyist will never get the recognition, satisfaction or acknoledgement they crave because they know in their heart they are in effect cheating. Cheating themselves and others. Real artists, whether they ever get recognition know that what they produce was from the heart and true to the whole idea of original art.
From: Anne Nielsen — Nov 22, 2010

I have had people copy my work. I have seen them win awards and then found out the work was copied. I feel sorry for them. If they do not have enough creativity to come up with an original idea, then, I guess they can share my original ideas. I have more than I can or will ever paint. I have drawn out ideas, on reams of paper, stacks of postcards, and thousands of photos. If someone is as sadly unimaginative as they obviously are, then I am prolific enough to give them a fist full of ideas. I have probably 10 shows of 30 paintings planned at any one time, I am a full time painter, and I will never be able to get all the ideas down on canvas. So, copy away. Go ahead, let me do your thinking and creating for you…… but in the end what you will have is a copy of what I created, that is all. It is not original, it is not yours. Any pride you feel in the work you did belongs to me.

From: Becky Joy — Jan 30, 2011

For years I did a large show with several artists. Every year the same artists would watch what sells and quickly change gears. It can get to you, but you need to keep your head down and do what you feel good about and do the best that you can do. In the end, the person that enjoys their work, works hard at improving, and has the creativity will come out on top.

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After the Harvest

oil painting by William Marvin, Chicago, IL, USA

  You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013. That includes Fannie Griffin of Longwood, FL, USA, who wrote, “I read your quote to my husband about those who follow, and he replied, ‘Those who lead are always the first to be whacked!’ ” And also Susan Pitt of Ottawa, ON, Canada, who wrote, “Unless you are the lead dog, the view is always the same. (Anon)” And also Nancy Standlee of Arlington, TX, USA, who wrote, “From my mentor, artist Robert Burridge, ‘It’s all been done before but not by you.’ ”