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Liu Dan
Scholar's Rock 1 -- ink on paper  80 x 65 inches 2007
Scholar's Rock 1
ink on paper
80 x 65 inches
2007
Scholar's Rock 2 -- ink on paper  80 x 47.6 inches 2012
Scholar's Rock 2
ink on paper
80 x 47.6 inches
2012
Poppy -- ink on paper 2007
Poppy
ink on paper
2007
Ink Landscape -- ink on paper 1991
Ink Landscape
ink on paper
1991
Untitled -- ink on paper  80 x 65 inches 2007
Untitled
ink on paper
80 x 65 inches
2007
Taihu Rock from Jiemei Studio -- ink on paper  110 x 68 inches 2006
Taihu Rock from Jiemei Studio
ink on paper
110 x 68 inches
2006
Poppy -- ink on paper  63 x 54.5 inches 2011
Poppy
ink on paper
63 x 54.5 inches
2011
Strange Rock -- ink on paper 73 x 37 inches 2005
Strange Rock
ink on paper
73 x 37 inches
2005


Identical twins

May 24, 2013

Dear Artist,

Recently, Steve Koch of Gresham, Oregon wrote, "A friend experienced a situation where a painting of his was sold and then another client came forward and asked to have an identical one. I'm concerned about the artist's reputation and any problems the first client might have with the deal. What's your take on this?"

Thanks, Steve. I'm going to give you my boundaries in this, but first of all I have to tell you that my boundaries are culturally biased.

Here in China they may have a one-child policy, but they'll make 3000 identical "originals" if they think it'll ring the register. As most of us know, making paintings identical to one another is difficult. I doubt if there are many Western painters who would have the discipline to properly repaint a second work stroke-by-stroke.

In Western cultures we start with attitudes about our individuality, integrity, personal pride and morality. In poorer countries such as China, where 90% of the population still struggle just to live, other attitudes prevail.

As a self-indulgent Western individualist, my preference is to make smallish "sketches" that are nevertheless finished pieces and sold through galleries. If I happen to like one of these sketches, I may make a larger and then a larger version. In my studio, a good sketch may last for perhaps five reincarnations.

Requests for repeats are infrequent. If someone insists on a copy, I tell them that no two paintings can be exactly alike and I suggest that I do one "of the same subject, in the similar spirit, and in a different size."

The secret to this system is to not refer to the replicated work as you go along. Many (Western) painters agree with me that the act of trying to copy, particularly one's own work, jinxes creativity and stultifies the piece. In my experience the "blind copy" can bring new life and energy to the subject. Curiously, the painting is often fresher and better resolved. Even though the very idea of a copy offends some artists, it can actually be a creative ploy and a challenging opportunity.

When delivering a blind copy to a client or a dealer, I've never had a complaint that I know of. If anybody ever did complain, I'd take the painting back, give a refund, and recommend they go to China.

Best regards,

Robert

PS: "There is no harm in repeating a good thing." (Plato)

Esoterica: "It just doesn't seem right," says Steve Koch, "to make a copy just for money." We've been through this conundrum before. Remember a few years ago when photo-litho and giclee reproductions were proliferating like crazed rabbits? How did that phenomenon turn out? Let's go back to money: With a few exceptions, the wholesale manufacture of reproductions seldom enhanced the value of the original work. Further, millions of "investors" were left with an unsalable pile of paper. Repros have had a negative effect on the art market that will not soon be forgiven. Except for some hotels and economy-minded interior decorators, the private collector and the prestigious museum need rarity.





Similar, not copied
by Mike Fenton, Parsippany, NJ, USA


I recently had a similar experience. Someone bought a painting I had in a show and then visited a Elizabeth's Music<br>original painting by Mike Fenton Elizabeth's Music
original painting
website where some of my older work was still on display. He contacted me to buy them but I told them they were no longer available. He asked for me to duplicate them. We talked a bit and he agreed that he wanted "original" work and not a copy of what someone else had, so I painted similar pictures and all was well. I never make giclees or prints of my work. I only sell originals. My second versions were better than the originals, in my opinion, and the collector is very happy. Many artists paint the same scene or portrait many times and each is different, so I see no reason not to do the same on request.



There are 3 comments for Similar, not copied by Mike Fenton

From: Mari Z. Johansen -- May 28, 2013

I think that I find the whole idea of someone requesting a 'copy' is odd. Why would you want something that someone else has (unless you are purchasing a print in a series that is).

I think that the idea of creating a "blind copy" is the only way to go and I thoroughly understand how that copy may actually more 'fleshed out, that the original. We always absorb some feelings about our 'first' of anything and that prior knowledge can really work to make a second, similar image, far more complex, and often better work

From: Anonymous -- May 28, 2013

The title of this painting is very funny

From: Anonymous -- May 28, 2013

People just like an image and want to have it in their home, there is nothing strange with that. I find it odd that someone wants to have exclusive ownership of an image and doesn't want anyone else in the whole world to have it. That is arogant...but affordable for the rich.


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The same, but not identical
by Brenda Lowery, Bellingham, WA, USA


I also had a request for a reproduction of a full-size painting which had been previously sold. I <br>original painting (left)<br>reproduction painting (right) by Brenda Lowery
original painting (left)
reproduction painting (right)
told the client I'd do the painting of the same subject, the same size, in similar colors, but with slight modifications of the scene. It was fun to do the scene again and the client was thrilled with the painting even though not identical to the first.



There are 2 comments for The same, but not identical by Brenda Lowery

From: Margie Larson -- May 28, 2013

I can see why your client likes the second best. In my humble opinion it is the best of the two paintings. Good work.

From: sallyrae -- May 28, 2013

I agree but both are lovely.


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Coburn's countless images of team horses
by Bill Kerr, Courtenay, BC, Canada


Frederick Simpson Coburn RCA painted countless images of a team of horses pulling a sleigh loaded On the Logging Trail, Melbourne, Quebec<br>oil painting<br>20 x 32 inches<br>1928<br>by Frederick Simpson Coburn, R.C.A.
On the Logging Trail, Melbourne, Quebec
oil painting
20 x 32 inches
1928
by Frederick Simpson Coburn, R.C.A.
with logs. The same team in each painting! The white horse was invariably in front of and largely outlined by a brown horse. The driver was usually walking beside the sleigh in off-road circumstances. The horses were nearly identical; the woods around them differed. A second common theme was a running white horse with mane swept in the wind pulling a simple red cutter. He was so popular that an art critic at an early Group of Seven show wondered in print why the members of the Group did not paint more like Coburn. These were immensely popular in their day and there are many paintings out there. Every Heffel auction features a few Coburn's and they command prices well up in the tens of thousands.

Coburn did a lot of illustration work and commissions. There is a painting in the book about Coburn where a hunter has a rifle that seems to turn into a fog at the front end. The story is that this painting was commissioned by the Ross Rifle company but not completed before the company failed due to the jamming rifle problem that plagued Canadian Forces during WW 1. The book also points out that Coburn did a wide range of work but the winter sled theme seems to have been his bread and butter. He did well and had a fine house in Upper Melbourne, Quebec where he entertained.



There are 3 comments for Coburn's countless images of team horses by Bill Kerr

From: Anonymous -- May 28, 2013

The key to comfortable life is to figure out how to do one thing better than anyone else and keep doing it. Given that your thing is something that many people want to buy. This sounds easy but it can take you a lifetime never to find that special thing. In the meantime we can find joy in exploration and make sure the bills are paid. Coburn was a great artist and his paintings are iconic, regardless of how many there are.

From: Anonymous -- May 29, 2013

Well I suppose I am jealous that he made a comfortable living out of making pictures suitable for jigsaw puzzles. Maybe he did explore that market

From: Leah -- May 30, 2013

Well, if you feel that your art is more deserving, why be annonimous?


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When income trumps originality
by Steve Whitney, Bothell, WA, USA


I had to laugh in Henning Mankel's popular Kurt Wallender mysteries. Wallender's father paints the Rejoice in the Sunset Tree<br>oil painting<br>16 x 20 inches by Steve Whitney Rejoice in the Sunset Tree
oil painting
16 x 20 inches
same landscape over and over. The landscapes differ only in that some of them include a grouse while the others do not. These paintings are sold to distributors for the hotel and hospital trade. For the elder Wallender, income clearly trumps originality, but then so it does for many, many artists who earn a living with their brush.



There are 3 comments for When income trumps originality by Steve Whitney

From: Jane Angell -- May 27, 2013

Wonderful painting of the sunset behind the tree.

From: Linda Bean -- May 28, 2013

Lovely painting, Steve. As always you capture a lovely sense of atmosphere.

From: Nora -- May 28, 2013

It might be an idea that the world is the same except that some of us see a grouse and some of us don't...but we all have to pay the price. The creator might as well be paid. I think it's a clever sideline of the plot.


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Grandmother's unique works
by Suzanne McCaslin, Modesto, CA, USA


My grandmother painted many paintings of the Pacific Grove train depot (since torn down) and the Glass Playful Gemstone Charm Necklace<br>original jewelry by Suzanne McCaslin Playful Gemstone Charm Necklace
original jewelry
Bottom Boat pier, since washed away by storms. Her repeated paintings were done due to many changes in the geography / paint through the ages. Her skills were never considered, given her M in Art from California plus continuing education in art in San Francisco Art Institute (now the Mark Hopkins Hotel) and designing stages and costumes in Hollywood's early days, then making her mark on public education prior to returning to her roots in Fresno, CA - then retiring to the family retirement community of Pacific Grove...

Nevertheless, the community of Pacific Grove annually celebrates my grandmother, Louise McCaslin, for chronicling their history in oil and watercolor. Most of the images in her paintings are long lost to the wrecking balls, but these paintings live on.

All of this has given me much more appreciation for her numerous paintings of Lover's Point, the Glass Bottom Boat Pier, the Pacific Grove Train Depot, the Pacific Grove Lighthouse, etc. Each of these art works is unique.



There is 1 comment for Grandmother's unique works by Suzanne McCaslin

From: Diane Overmyer -- May 27, 2013

Your grandmother sounds like an amazing person! Kuddos to her for following her passion, even in a time period when she was most likely one of a handful of women working in an area dominated by men. Are images of her paintings on line?


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Revisiting a past concept
by David Glover, West Hollywood, CA, USA


I have had requests from legitimate art collectors who want essentially the same painting that I have Autumn Prelude<br>acrylic painting by David Glover Autumn Prelude
acrylic painting
sold years ago. I would never try to imitate the original painting stroke-for-stroke but I do keep all of my original reference studies and material and I have on occasion created another version of my painting. Of course, they are similar but likely not the same size and just visually familiar. Because of the differences inherent in making another painting of the same composition in another year with different energy, the next painting stands on its own merit. For artists, creating new compositions is always a challenge and it's actually enjoyable to revisit a past concept and see what new elements and twists can come out of the same idea.

Certainly the collector appreciates that you can deliver a painting of a subject they truly love. Every second version has been a fulfilling experience for the collector and a bit of fun for the artist.



There are 2 comments for Revisiting a past concept by David Glover

From: Sallyrae -- May 28, 2013

I love all the beautiful colors in your composition. I am sure you could paint several but they would all be unique.

From: PK -- May 28, 2013

I totally understand why you are requested to do the same painting. I love it too. You hone in on love.


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Third attempt the best
by Susie Cipolla, Whistler, BC, Canada


Last year I had a client request an "identical" copy of a small bear painting that I was selling through Untitled<br>original painting by Susie Cipolla Untitled
original painting
my Gallery. It turns out that he had taken a picture of it and then came back a couple of days later to find that it had been sold. The chance of that happening is slim to none but happened anyway. He wanted the same size and with a shiny lacquered finish that I had had great difficulty applying effectively on the first painting. The Gallery took a deposit so I was on. I told them that it would have to be a different size so I went with one slightly larger. Anyway, I made the painting (it was slightly better than the first one) but I screwed up the finish and had to throw it out. My third attempt at the same image, without the fancy topcoat was by far the best painting of the three. Maybe I have to paint an image three times to get a good outcome.



There are 4 comments for Third attempt the best by Susie Cipolla

From: Agi -- May 28, 2013

Just wondering why it had to be a different size?

From: Anonymous -- Jun 03, 2013

Thanks for asking. I wanted to avoid the possible "I have that exact painting in that exact size". Of course no two original paintings will be exactly the same but I thought it would be one concrete element that would set one apart from the other.

From: Susie Cipolla -- Jun 03, 2013

sorry not anonymous

From: Gail Firmin -- Jul 11, 2013

How coincidental to see your name here. I just returned home to Colorado from a trip to Vancouver, BC and remembered seeing some of your beautiful artwork in a gallery in Granville Island.


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Realistic, non-objective painting
by Joe McAleer, Bonita Springs, FL, USA


I wrote an interesting blog about exactly the same thing. I copied a same abstract painting much <br>Original painting and larger copy. by Joe McAleer
Original painting and larger copy.
larger. The two processes were so amazingly different. It was the first time I tried to reproduce one of my original abstracts. Here is the blog post . I had just finished painting a small abstract (12 x 12 inches) that I called Breakthrough. It was a very important piece to me because it was a total departure from my recent work of the last 5 years. The process of painting the original (important word here) piece was intuitive, deep within the unconscious, fraught with doubt, fear, sometimes self-loathing. Half of the time I spent sitting in a chair 10 feet away, just looking at the work, trying to figure out where to go next.

After finishing the painting, my only regret was that I wished I had painted it larger. So I did exactly that. I painted the smaller piece larger and this time I used a 36 x 36 inch canvas. I used the grid method of enlargement to copy a line drawing of the smaller piece to the larger canvas. I then set about to reproduce the images, colors, tonal values, etc. The painting took me about a quarter of the time to do, and when it was done it was virtually a replica of the smaller piece. The process of painting the larger piece was so different, it startled me. There was none of the previous process at all; no uncertainty at all. Hence, "Realistic Non-Objective Painting."



There are 5 comments for Realistic, non-objective painting by Joe McAleer

From: Susan Avishai -- May 28, 2013

Your blogpost link doesn't work, which is a shame--I wanted to read more. I find it so odd that you would struggle artistically (as do I, all the time) with an abstract piece, then make an exact copy. Why not use what you've learned to intuitively go forward and do another, different canvas? I can certainly understand how painting the two would be vastly different experiences since you've solved all the problems with the first. Wasn't doing the second boring? Would you do that again?

From: Susan Kellogg, Austin, TX -- May 28, 2013

Just saying that I think that painting works better larger...it is intriguing as many abstract paintings are not.

From: Tom Semmes -- May 29, 2013

Joe, what an interesting idea..."realistic non-objective". You should do more paintings like that.

From: Anonymous -- May 29, 2013

From: Joe McAleer -- May 31, 2013

susan. the reason why i reproduced the work larger is because i liked
the smaller work so much that i just had to do it larger. my only regret is that i did not do it 5' x 5'.
my blogpost was written because i was so startled at the difference in the painting processes. i guess i always knew it would be different, but only when i actually painted the work did i really experience it. try it and you'll see.


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Insurance policy: siblings or twins
by Phil Chadwick, Southampton, ON, Canada


In 2012 I was commissioned to paint a 4x6 foot canvas celebrating the "50 Years of Our Flag." The Canadian Forest shadows<br>original painting by Phil Chadwick Forest shadows
original painting
Maple Leaf Flag was first raised on February 15th, 1965 and it was a huge achievement of fellow Brockvillian, John Ross Matheson among others. In fact I am working on this canvas with John who lives nearby my studio.

For me, a 4x6 foot canvas is a big deal! At least 3,456 square inches plus the wrap around. I wanted this art to be the very best of my career and I needed insurance. So why not paint two and promote the "best" as the official painting of the 50 Years of Our Flag Project? All winter and spring was spent painting obsessively on these two canvases. My wife thinks I have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive/Creative Disorder). For once she is wrong.

My "darlings" were painted together inspired from the same plein air parents but they are not identical! I toyed with the weather and cloud formations but from a distance only a meteorologist would see the differences or care. I also adjusted the transitions from one subject to the next as I wrapped the Canadian Maple Leaf Flag with Canadian styled art. Just yesterday I noticed that the brush was starting to "dab" repeatedly. Being the person behind that brush, I decided that it was time to "step away from the easels." If I worked any more trying to make my offspring "perfect," I would likely hurt them. Sometimes you can save a painting with a single sweep or kill it with a thousand strokes. It is time to release them into the bigger world away from my studio.

My insurance policy that produced twins when only one was desired leads me to the dilemma as to what to do with them? I won't hide the fact that the official "best" painting has a sibling. They are destined to be separated at birth but the new adoptive parents have the right to know. Plato said that "there is no harm in repeating a good thing," but I feel it is wrong to hide the existence of any siblings.

There is a lot more to this story – much of it has been revealed on my blog .



There are 2 comments for Insurance policy: siblings or twins by Phil Chadwick

From: tatjana m-p -- May 28, 2013

Wonderful painting!

From: Pat -- May 29, 2013

Beautiful painting!


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Evelyn Dunphy workshops Held off the Wild Coast of Ireland.  <a href='http://clicks.robertgenn.com/workshops/workshop.php'>The Workshop Calendar</a> provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. Please take a look <a href='http://clicks.robertgenn.com/workshops/workshop.php'>here</a>.
Evelyn Dunphy workshops
Held off the Wild Coast of Ireland.

The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. Please take a look here.



World of Art Featured artist Georges Dumitresco, Switzerland



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Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Identical twins...

From: DaleG -- May 24, 2013

Good letter and an interest of mine has been the growth of my art by means of making multiple copies of a subject. Monet for instance had obviously no problem painting the same pond what 60-100 times ?

Western artists (I grew up in the good old USA) have slight appreciation for the way Asian art is taught by means of copying. The master paints a "masterpiece" and the student copies this until the master is satisfied he has the proper technique. Then the student can paint in his own way if he so chooses. In the western method the emphasis in being "original" is put forth first. The student is expected to have "the gift" of an artist. Many an aspiring artist would benefit from the Asian way and become better at creative expression by copying a masters art.

From: ReneW -- May 24, 2013

An acquaintance once asked me to make a copy of a painting, from a photo, of a contemporary California artist whose name I've long forgotten. Not knowing the medium used in the original, I made the painting in acrylics, on canvas. I did not sign the painting with the artists name or my own. I had no guilt feelings about doing this as I paid for the painting materials from my own funds. I received no money for doing this copy of this painting. I've never done another since.

From: Shanghai Person (artist) -- May 24, 2013

We have powerful rising country here with all good things happening day by day it getting better. You watch!!! China new world center for art soon.

From: Ed Fu -- May 24, 2013

China make great artist of future as we know how to work and not waste time. We get things done. Did you see our bridges over rivers nicely?

From: Dar Hosta James -- May 24, 2013

I love when clients ask for me to repeat a beloved painting that has been sold and my response to them is similar to yours, Robert... that I can recreate the theme and the vibe but that no two paintings are exactly the same. Because so much of my tree themed art has a homogenous feel to it, I don't feel that this diminishes the value or importance of any previously sold works. Another thing I do is to offer clients a pick-and-choose kind of option. They might choose the color palette of one piece, the flower style of another, a sun rather than a moon, three trees rather than two, etc. They can look at what I have available and choose their own combination of elements and this often brings me to new creative combinations for my work that I'd not considered.

From: Mikulas Kravjansky -- May 24, 2013

"It just doesn't seem right," says Steve Koch, "to make a copy just for money."
I say humbug. What about Rembrant's etchings or T. Lautrec prints, Dürer's etchings or Picasso lithographs? With a statement like this you dump the whole section of fine art to trash.

From: Dianne Mize -- May 24, 2013

Yes, but what you are doing is not a copy, but a new statement or a continued statement about the same subject. I've been saying for years that an artist can do a hundred paintings from the same subject, each finding some new discovery or nuance, if the artists is approaching the subject with fresh curiosity and intent for each.
Keep up the good work.

From: Guang Yuen -- May 24, 2013

Now you are only one in world who knows so much (about art) because practical person who work hard and quite rich always having happy time looking forward and study well. Thank you. Please come back to China often if you wish.

From: Mary Champion -- May 24, 2013

When a scene piques my interest, I find that the painting I create is often the one most noticed by studio visitors. Those paintings are also the ones that leave with a new owner fairly quickly, often before I am ready to let them go. It is only natural to keep painting different versions; each one is unique and as I become more and more familiar with the subject, I often find myself experimenting with palette, looser strokes, etc. Quite often the fifth version is as fresh as the first.
I try to vary sizes, but not always. If a fellow artist wonders aloud why I am painting those haybales again, I wonder to myself why they aren't at their easels

From: John Kramer -- May 24, 2013

It is an artist's right to develop motifs in any direction, even the same direction.

From: Marvin Humphrey -- May 24, 2013

Hand-pulled etchings and lithographs in a numbered edition are considered to be original works of art. Each print is exactly the same. Doing another rendition of one of your originals, is another original.

From: Barbara Heimsness -- May 24, 2013

I once painted a man's childhood home from a tiny photograph and his description. The home was long gone. When he got it he cried and his brother's and sisters wanted one too. After the third one, which involved a lot of vodka early in the day to finish, I referred the rest of the family to a photography studio here which took pictures of the painting and made full size replicas. I'll never do it again.

From: Susan McCrae -- May 24, 2013

It seems to me that this, wanting a copy of an existing work, is the best reason and justification for giclee's, n'est pas?

From: Sk -- May 24, 2013

I agree with Plato. I have been asked to do similar/same paintings and each time I have repeated a painting it does come out different as my response to the scene is different. Color and light will change. I tell them it cannot be identical.

From: Michelle Jahraus -- May 24, 2013

Here is a question from my business manager (my husband) and I'm so fortunate to have his help! : If a painting has won an award, acclaim, whatever, is it appropriate to raise it's price?.

From: Bruce Miller -- May 24, 2013

Painting a series of the same subject matter was encouraged in the 1980s as artists explored a given topic. While not quite identical twins an acceptable series of siblings. Not true?

From: Lynn Connell -- May 24, 2013

Can u do something on painting on mylar? W ink? Oil? Acrylic? Oil stick? Have been asked to paint 6 tall panels to be hung and backlit, inside the windows in Toronto's historical MacKenzie House for Nuit Blanche. Was told mylar would be the best material to back lite. Any ideas?

From: Elle Fagan -- May 24, 2013

I sell the studies and small works and so many of them, that I sometimes lose one in storage or to theft, and then I must go to my buyer and apologize and tell him I will make a near-identical copy if that will work, at the same price as the ready-to-go painting that disappeared. The idea of a thing being custom made for them pleases them and thanks to good scans I can work from my original and do just fine.
I think that as long as everyone involved is pleased the issue is moot

From: Camille Bodey -- May 24, 2013

I see no problem with "repainting" an original work to make a "copy". The artist doing this might "improve" on the "original" painting.

From: Karla Pearce -- May 24, 2013

I've painted lots of copies of my own work. One painting I sold 4 times. It was of a boat. People like boats. I find that hilarious.
Anyway, I have no problem with self reference, the painting is still an original.

From: Susan -- May 25, 2013

I have paintings where I was really in the spirit of the work and strokes seem to have come from above. There is not way I could repeat that work,even if I wanted to.

From: Bob Ragland -- May 27, 2013

From: Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki -- May 27, 2013

After hearing many arguments and debates about this my hard rule is that it is entirely the artist’s own decision what they do with their own images. Sometimes I like one idea or image so much that I make a few repetitions of a scene. I happen to like making slight variations so I can explore further ideas. But if I really had a desire to do replicas, I’d do replicas and would make it clear that they are replicas. As long as the artist is open of what the painting is, it’s their honest work. Another thing is what certain client niche likes or dislikes, as well as what galleries and other business partners deem acceptable. I had someone call a gallery where I had paintings to tell them that there was the same scene that they had, in a smaller size in another gallery (thank goodness for such friends). Unfortunately, I used the same title which caused confusion so I apologized and explained the situation. When doing business with other people it is critical to understand expectations and respect all agreements. But, it is also critical to know that it is entirely up to the artist to decide what they will paint – circumstances, rights and consequences are our own. Thanks to Robert and all the contributors to Painter's Keys for making it possible for us to learn what’s out there!

From: Jackie Knott -- May 27, 2013

I couldn't copy my own work either, nor would I want to.

Having declined some tempting offers on a favorite painting I finally succumbed to the giclee bandwagon to satisfy one persistent gentleman. He wanted this specific image (attached) and was happy to pay for the costs of producing a giclee. Since the deed was done what is terribly wrong with a few more?

We can rehash the whole giclee argument, and of course we want our originals to sell. But there are valid reasons for reproductions beyond money.

From: Rick Rotante -- May 27, 2013

Two things I think you should consider - One- paint the copy but don't worry if it isn't an exact copy. Make a close second painting. The Client will love it anyway. Unless they have the original in front of them, they won't know the difference. Also they will be getting an original anyway. Two- tell them you have photos of the area originally painted and you would use them to make an almost copy from these references. Believe me they will love it also.
I had a similar situation. One painting sold, then another client wanted it. I did as suggested above and they loved it more than the original.

From: Paulette -- May 27, 2013

Last November I had a small painting that sold 3 times in a day. It was if a copper vessel on fall leaves. I kept the original subject and redid the leaves in color and type. All were original but feed off the first painting. All were very pleased.

From: Brigitte Nowak -- May 27, 2013

A few months ago, I did a series of paintings of people and dogs that I was anticipating sending to one of my galleries. While working on the series, a penpal - someone in another country that I "met" through your letters, and with whom I have been corresponding for several years (we are about the same age, love dogs, love art, and would likely be best friends if we ever met) - sent me an image that was perfect for this series of paintings, and a good representation of her dog. I asked if I could use her photo as a reference, and then I painted a second version (I told her that I wasn't entirely happy with the first painting, but didn't want to ruin it by fiddling with it, and asked her to identify the version she preferred). And yes, I used the original reference photo for both versions of the painting.

She doesn't know it yet, but she will be receiving her preferred version of the painting for her birthday.

From: Nina Maguire -- May 27, 2013

I always do several studies for a painting using different formats- squares, rectangles and verticals. If I haven't satisfied the excitement I felt when first deciding to paint the scene, I could keep at it, but, no two paintings will ever be exact.

From: Cintia -- May 27, 2013

answer for Michelle Jahraus - if you sell one painting for a higher price, what do you say to other buyers...that they are getting a lesser work? Does that sound like a good business if you were a client?

From: Nora Blansett -- May 28, 2013

I had to copy a piece several years back for a show. I'd mailed original paintings from Nova Scotia to Oregon, rolled. When they arrived, the tube was smashed and the paintings were irrevocably damaged. In a hurried fashion, I put together a new version, however I ended up extremely disappointed in it. It needed to be exactly the same -- and not only could I not replicate it, it had lost the magic of the original. I won't even try to duplicate work anymore, now if someone wants a copy I do what everyone where is talking about, offer something similar with the same spirit in mind.

On another note, I no longer ship in tubes, I ship flat. (Insurance had been purchased for the ruined pieces, however the US postal service refused to pay stating that you can't prove the value of art. I fought with them over a year and finally had to just write off the loss.)

From: Rick Woods -- May 28, 2013

I once received a commission for a pair of identical paintings. I painted them for two collectors who had shared a memorable fishing trip, but had no pictures. It was a landscape painting of an area of Alaska which I could see, but had not visited because I had no boat. It was an interesting challenge, doing the same scene, one right after the other, then going back and tweaking them for a near identical look in watercolor. The money was good, and since I brought them both along at the same time, it didn't feel like copying, more like Sumi-E where each brush stroke is considered, planned, practiced. That experience has improved my work through the repetition of the process of planning every move, yet keeping each gesture fresh and spontaneous. It did not feel like production, rather a unique exercise of control and concentration.

From: Tatjana -- May 28, 2013

In the past few years I feel that I want to go back to some of my old paintings and paint new versions. Perhaps this is like visiting with a child that has since left home, changed a bit and has new stories to tell. Maybe there will be series of those revisited paintings over years, and hopefully they will have an interesting story to tell.

From: Dorothy Koppelman -- May 28, 2013

On the whole I agree with the very sensible comments on the problems of copying one's own work, particularly the fact, which I have discovered in merely dealing with the same subject, that one can solve certain questions the second time around which were troublesome in the first version.

However, let us not forget that two memorable instances of copies are Van Gogh's three "copies" of his Bedroom, for three different people, and Veronese's "Mars and Venus United by Love," one of which hangs in the Hermitage now I believe and the other at the Frick. My husband, Chaim Koppelman discovered this fact in 1952 when he was doing a copy of the Venus and Mars then hanging at the Met in NYC. The horse was a little different in the Russian version, and the expression on Venus's face was as puzzling as ever.

From: Russ Hogger -- May 28, 2013

To do a sucessful copy of one's own painting depends on your style. In brief,working in a loose spontanious fashion would be harder to copy than say a photo realist style. The difficulty with the loose style is to try and repeat all those juicy spontanious brushstokes and marks as in the original painting, whereas with the more realist style, brushstrokes are not an issue, only slavish copy. I agree with the idea of doing another painting of the same subject rather than attempting to do a copy.

From: Donna James -- May 31, 2013




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