The community I live in has an art group, which I'm apart of. Every month, there's an opportunity to have our work displayed in an informal hanging. The theme for next month’s is Impressionism and abstraction. I’m not much for abstract, but I thought I’d try my hand at planning an impressionistic painting. I’ve chosen to do a painting of a parrot in a tree that I snapped in Trolley Barn Park. I turned up the contrast on the photo so the lighting would look more interesting.
I’ve been going back and forth with myself whether to do the painting in watercolor or acrylics. If I’m going to do it in acrylics, I need to order a different type of canvas than the one I have. The impressionistic style involves putting a lot of paint on the canvas, which requires a heavy weight surface. I still have some sheets of 300 lb watercolor paper that I had to buy for that workshop I took though, so I’m leaning toward doing the project in watercolor.
Some principals I’m going to follow are:
1: Use large brushes, no liners, and use the whole body of the brush, not just the tip.
2. Hold my brushes far back on the handle. Both of these principles will prevent me from being able to add a lot of detail, which we don’t want in impressionism. Rather, we want to rely on our shadows and highlights to give our subject shape.
3. (In acrylics) Use lots of paint and let my brush strokes show.
After all this, though, I realized I was being a little over ambitious. I wasn’t going to have time to complete this painting before the next art hanging. Luckily, I happened to have a painting already done in an impressionistic style, which is this one.
I painted this during one of Lisa Clough of Lachri Fine Art’s paint alongs. You might notice it’s very reminiscent of Van Gogh. That was done on purpose.
I would like to paint the picture I was planning above. It just won’t be for this show.
This teaches me a lesson about keeping up with what’s going on in my community and planning ahead.
I realized that I use less than 5% of the materials in my pencil box. I’ve decided to try doing a project using my neglected materials to see if I have a good excuse for not using them. I’m a little nervous. What if I hate these materials? Well, if I don’t like working with these pencils, I can throw them out or donate them. If I do like them, I can commit to using them more often.
I started by using a 2H pro art pencil for my outline. I used a 4b pencil for medium to dark shading and an h pencil for light shading. The h pencil came out darker than I thought it would. I used a sepia pencil for the darkest shades.
Do I hate these pencils? Absolutely not! On the contrary, I found them to be very smooth and enjoyable to work with.
I had been shoving these pencils, which are mostly from Pro Art, in favor of my Koh-I-Noor pencils for years. It’s funny how we can get so used to using a select few products that we almost forget our other materials exist, even if there’s nothing objectively wrong with them.
Today I want to talk about borrowing as an artist while still being original. I'm going to use my painting "Woman With Cabinet" to try to explain this.
The concept for this painting was taken entirely from the song "Killer Queen". The woman herself is a representation of the character in that song, and there's a plate of caviar, and a cigarette box on her nightstand and of course a bottle of Moet & Chandon champagne in her cabinet.
The point I want to make, though, is that even though I got the concept for that painting from someone else, so the concept isn't original, the painting itself is. The design is mine. That exact design doesn't exist anywhere else in the world.
If you've followed someone else's concept very closely, though, I think it's only right to give credit to them for it.
This painting wouldn't have existed if I hadn't listened to that song and it's lyrics, so whenever and wherever I've posted this painting online, I've given credit to Freddie Mercury for this concept.
So while I do take concepts from other people, I make sure that #1, the execution is my own and #2, I give credit where credit is due.
When do I think credit is due? Personally, I give credit very liberally, but the time I think it's really due is when your following someone else's concept so closely that it's obvious you got the idea from that person as was the case with my painting.
I can remember my former stepfather sitting me down and going through pictures with me of things he was going to have me paint. He said, "Some people say, I want mine to be original. They're full of sh%t.
I agree with him and I don't, kind of. I agree in the sense that everyone borrows, everyone gets ideas from other places. But I still think that there are ways you can make things your own, such as changing a color and taking lots of elements from different artists and combining them to make something that's uniquely yours.
In the past, I made a post about stealing the right way as an artist.
I've said this before and I'm saying it again. Ideas and concepts cannot be copyrighted. Only the execution of those ideas and concepts can be copyrighted. So you can use someone else's concept as long as you execute it in a different way.
I'm not the only one who has taken a concept from someone else and changed the execution of it. I happen to know that Freddie Mercury, himself, took the concept of Richard Dadd's painting "The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke" and used it as the basis for the song he wrote with the same title.
I also have an idea for a painting I want to do that is taking a concept from another artist and I'll tell you more about that after I've started on it.
Maybe you've taken a concept from someone else and executed it in your own way. I'd love to read about it in the comments.
My former stepfather would bring things home that he had found and tell people that we were going to pass this off as my piece and it could be something that only did I not make it, but something that I would never have made period. It could be something that wasn't even my style.
I even remember walking into our dining room to find him finishing a painting a Rockwell style painting and saying basically that I was looking at my next painting. There were so many instances like that, where he either found something or threw something together himself and told me to take credit for it.
I don't want to go into the reasons why my former stepfather did what he did in this post. All I'm going to say about it here is, just as I would hate for someone to take something that I did and pass it off as there own, I feel indescribably icky about taking credit for something I didn't do.
Have you ever taken a concept from someone and executed it in your own way.
Painter of portraits and wildlife