...serenity in motion

Reference material, thinking ahead about what you are painting and why.

One of my favorite movies from the 80's is Working Girl, Sigourney Weaver, Melanie Griffith and Harrison Ford all in a corporate shark tank trying to get ahead.  It all comes down in the end to Melanie facing a bigwig and defending the origin of her idea and being able to prove it.  When Sigourney Weaver's character is confronted, she cannot prove where the idea came from because it wasn't hers.  This is an image that comes to mind everytime I read a prospectus where they tell you that the composition needs to be from a secure source (not public) or strictly from the artist's own material.  Some facebook artist friends are crying foul when they are getting their work removed from co-ops after they have proof of written permission from a photographer who published a photo in a magazine.

It all comes down to origin of image and who has seen it.  My mother once used a picture out of a book to create a piece and made prints of it.  She took it to a mall show (artists would set up down the center of the mall) and saw that 3 other artists had done the same image in their own mediums.  Marching back to her display, she removed all of the offending images from her display and tossed them into the trash.  Lets not go into the whole copyright infringement, that isn't really the subject of this.  Instead, lets look at the perfect example of lack of image control.  Setting aside the fact everyone of those artists could have been sued by that photographer, look at instead how many other artists in that one small show copied the same image (35 artists in the 1980's).

Now we come to the day of facebook and all of the free reference pages available that are international.  One of the groups I belong to has 20k members!  It doesn't tell you how many are artists and how many are photographers but that is a lot of people with access to the same photos as me.  How many times has that amazing sunset been painted?  When will you come face to face with another depiction of that same image?  The odds are rising and they are not in your favor.  

Now, when you do paint something from one of those images; how do you keep track so that you know?  On my inventory list, I actually keep track of where the material comes from.  When I submit a painting to an organization, I can actually see if it was my photo or someone elses.  From this year forward, anything that I paint from someone else's material will be 8x10 because I never enter those in any competitions or create prints.  8x10's are my warm up size, to get my creative juices flowing for the big pieces. For my collectors information, that is why I get to offer them for such reasonable prices.

I'm going to put to all of my artist friends, amateur and pro; it is time to make sure that you have files of material you have found and taken on your own. Even if you purchase an image from a photographer, how do you know they didn't sell that same image to someone else? When you create, take the time to think of what you are going to do with the finished work and where your muse comes from.  Social media is a wonderful source and I am grateful for everyone who has let me paint from your images.  Thank you for your generosity. Look for my rendering in an affordable 8x10 size. ;)