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.
But 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.