Is Copying Art to Learn Not Profit Acceptable?




I am currently working on improving my Still Life compositions and developing some new techniques to control the digital watercolours. One of the ways I accomplish this is, is to copy by looking at a photo reference of another artist’s original painting.

I have to figure out a way to get the same look using digital brushes and the basic techniques are quite different.  For example; the watercolour brushes do have many of the same characteristic brush effects as real ones, but they still don’t blend together wet into wet the same way. (Maybe Painter X has brushes that do?)  The digital watercolours do not ‘run’ at all, although both can be blended.  This pear was actually painted in November and the background painted in December.  I can see my techniques have evolved since then.  Since I am doing what I call ‘Studies,’ that would illustrate this I can’t post them because they are not all my original work.  Even though I don’t actually incorporate any of the original image into mine and each brushstroke is mine on a blank canvas, I really do them as learning exercises.  Many painters do this and I believe it is an acceptable practice.

 I amaze myself with the results sometimes, because I usually start out thinking, “this ain’t gonna work!”  The trick is to filter out what I’ve learned and use it in my original work without copying a certain painter’s style. I am very conscious of the fact that there are copyrights on these works and would never use them to profit in any way beyond the experience of learning.

I am grateful to all the wonderful artists who post their beautiful art on the internet, because it has become my art classroom.  Not to mention my personal Art Gallery! I get  lot of joy out of looking at other artist’s work. It inspires me and encourages me to keep working hard.

My curiosity leads me to wonder how many other artists (traditional or digital) do this?  Do sastisfy my curiosity and leave a comment if you have ever done this.  Please share your opinion.

Meanwhile … Happy Painting and Happy Viewing!


One response to “Is Copying Art to Learn Not Profit Acceptable?

  1. Hi Joan
    I think that the only way an artist knows where they want to be when creating is by looking at lots and lots of art. For myself, personally, I had a sense of how I wanted my pictures to look and what my brush strokes should look like, but I needed to look at many different styles to figure this out. Like you, the internet is a classroom for me and I am amazed and inspired by the work out there.
    I would also like to quote Mike Svob, an amazing Canadian Artist who has a book called “Paint Red Hot Landscapes that sell”. He says,”The more painting you expose yourself to the clearer your personal vision of what your own artwork should look like becomes. Studying the work of other artists will help you learn to discriminate in order to develop your own taste, and will open up your eyes and soul to the range of possibilities in painting, both historical and contemporary”.

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