How Can I Prove My Inspiration Is My Own?

Painting of British DeerYesterday I posted my latest painting (still a work in progress) on my Facebook page and, as I’m thinking of making some canvas prints, I asked for comments.

The first comment I received was from a photographer: “I think you should come up with your own ideas instead of trying to copy others!”

To say I was flabbergasted would be an understatement. Also horrified, aghast and absolutely furious that anyone would think my art is based on other people’s work.

For the record I state categorically that I have not copied any of my paintings from any other artists work, with two exceptions: (1) as a schoolgirl when I didn’t know any better and (2) I once made a copy of a painting to see how the artist had achieved a particular effect*. That copy was for my own interest, was never exhibited or claimed to be anything other than a copy and was later destroyed.

Reference resourcesBut how can I prove that I didn’t copy this one? The answer is that I can’t. I can certainly prove that I didn’t copy the individual images as I have my own original sketches, photographs, layout drawings and some antlers for reference. What’s impossible to prove is where the original inspiration came from.

Sometimes an artist gains inspiration from a single event, sight, piece of music, phrase… Sometimes inspiration comes from a number of sources, as mine did on this occasion:

  • I’ve been working with the Deer Study & Resource Centre so needed to demonstrate a painting of deer for them.
  • I’ve been thinking of making a new deer puzzle which made me think of the six British species as a group.
  • I’ve recently been looking again at the work of Rien Poortvliet and like his sketchy style of showing several species on the same image.
  • Originally I wanted to show the species in proportion to each other but the size difference between them was too great for that idea to work.

When challenged the photographer produced a link  to a painting that he wrongly assumed I’d copied. (www.teresadavis.co.uk see the last painting on the originals page.) In the interest of fairness I agree there are similarities, but they are pure coincidence. I have never seen Ms Davis’s painting so it certainly has no connection with mine.

Some similarities can be explained by the constraints of viewpoint. For example, a fallow buck’s antlers are best seen in profile or three-quarter view – the shape is less clear when viewed straight on. That’s my opinion and I can only assume Ms Davis felt the same when planning her painting.

As for the similar square format: I have no idea why Ms Davis chose that. I chose it because it was simply the biggest board I had ready and available when I wanted to start the painting. In retrospect I wish it had been slightly taller as that would have aided the composition.

So that’s how this particular painting came to fruition, and my conscience is clear.

I am still angry though that someone can make unfounded accusations, that damage my personal and artistic reputation, under the guise of making a “comparison”. I wonder how the photographer would feel if I accused him of copying another photographers work? In future I hope he ascertains the facts before making wild accusations.

 

*Copying a painting for personal study is an accepted artistic tradition dating back many centuries.

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About Jackie Garner

Wildlife artist.
This entry was posted in Art, Business of Art, Wildlife Art and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to How Can I Prove My Inspiration Is My Own?

  1. I wouldn’t say that looks copied. The idea is similar, a deer montage. It’s going to be hard to ever come up with something 100% original and of course some similarities will always be there. I’m sure that this photographer has taken pictures of say a sunset that look like a lot of people’s shots of sunsets.

    It’s a study of deer on a canvas. I wouldn’t worry about this commenter, he’s entitled to his opinions but you don’t have to listen to them.

    • Thanks for your input, Rowena. I quite agree that there will always be similarities when artists choose the same subject, but that doesn’t mean there was any connection between the two images. I hope my post puts the record straight.

      This photographer puts me in mind of a Snoopy cartoon, the caption of which read “Everyone’s entitled to their own stupid opinion.” I’ll waste no more time on him.

  2. Citybird01 says:

    “Were you influenced by…?” or “have you seen…?” would have been more reasonable comments. Accusing you without even enquiring is just plain rude. But be charitable – it was probably a gut reaction and he typed first and thought later.

    The beauty of social media is that people can express their opinions. Some do it better than others.

    • Thanks for your comment. I’m just concerned that he expresses his incorrect opinion to other people. I’m relatively new to the sporting art market, and the last thing I need is for people’s first impression of me to be based on a lie.

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