Workshop students often follow the instructors demonstration in class sharpening their technique/color/design/ and other elements to improve their talent and creativity. Recently, I was surprised again when a painting was posted online that looked familiar. My first thought was ‘when did I post that painting.’ Immediately it was one of those ‘what’ moments my painting was supporting another signature. It looked like mine at first glance but upon closer look a class copy became evident. The posted painting had been done in a class environment the drawing and color scheme were the same as my demonstration. Not only was it posted as original work by the artist displaying the painting, it had sold. This ah-ha moment is happening far to often and should be addressed. So..I am compelled to explain copy work again to those who don’t get it, don’t know it or think it doesn’t apply to them…..the ethics of paint by number with students in mind.
Students and this also applies to me….when you follow along with the instructors composition/design in a learning mode, this doesn’t give you the license to claim the work ‘your original’. An instructor has worked several weeks on a focused plan to share with you their method of painting. They are sharing their knowledge/experiments/and failures so you can grow and not fall into a pit of despair. Using your paint/brushes/paper and hands allows one option, to use the class project as a reference. The ‘paint along’ is graciously permitted by the instructor to make your day happy, eventful, excited while your role is put into practice what you have learned. The masterpiece you leave the class with is not your painting. The only original part of the painting is the labor of blood sweat and tears you produced while in class. Entering the painting in shows or selling it deprives you from your own creativity showing disregard for an instructor who has invested her time for you.
The two portraits below were done with my paint/brushes/ and hands in a workshop several years ago. They have remained in my flat file all this time because they were the concept of a good instructor. The photos/drawings during the workshop were furnished and the demonstration gave insight into the technique….it was a paint along. Being proud of the fact I could follow instructions…few people have seen them. Many years have passed and few would remember the workshop…I could enter them in a show frame them to sell and who would know. Me….I would know they were not my brain work. From the drawing to the final brush stroke was done by me but with little thought to the concept. Why would I want recognition for something I didn’t create with my paint/brushes/ and hands.