I have made a decision regarding my new collections of horse racing paintings.
Recently at a gallery opening I met a collector of my work who now owns several paintings of mine covering various subjects. The discussion arose as to how popular some of my subjects now seem to be getting. Cockerels are amongst many artists collections as a favourite subject so I don't claim these as mine nor should I. But I have a defined style especially when it comes to a sense of movement in my work and my horse racing paintings are classed as unique.
The collector explained that he had noticed my work is being copied by a particular artist who may have originally felt they were learning from me. But they are also sharing and selling online pretending the paintings/style are their own idea and creation. This isn't ethical or wise. Their effects cannot result in exact copies but the appearance of their work screams of my influence.
I listened and completely understood. If you pay thousands of pounds for a painting you want an original piece of art. You may also be able to afford to take legal action if you feel the painting you purchased has been copied. Which is the situation my client felt able to do as a lawyer and in the legal profession. I hadn't fully taken in this side of the complicated issue of copyright. The owner of an original piece of art has rights too. We had such an insightful conversation and I am really grateful that we not only met but took time to think about how copying artists can really effect other artists,galleries and art buyers.
It isn't just art that is being copied as actions are also. I do understand the artist who is so desperate for a sale that they eagerly watch what others are exhibiting and race for their brushes believing if they too paint the same subjects they will be successsful. But they are missing the point. It is the individuality of an artist,the one who paints new subjects or finds new ways to paint old favourites that gets attention.
I have alway encouraged artists to create their own work. I have felt strongly about those who consistently paint from photographs that they have found online that could easily be painted by many other viewers of the very same image. I have shared and advised new artists to learn from as many books and workshops as possible to help them grow and gain more technical experience. However once you learn to depend on copying as a constant way of working it is very hard to let go of the "crutch" and find out what you are truly capable of as an individual.
I love originality. I love seeing what every artist of all levels is capable of , bringing life into a composition drawing from their own creativity not others.
What you paint does depend very much on where you are in your art journey so learning from masters or artists who are far more experienced than yourself of course is only natural. But there is a obvious line between copying to learn and copying deliberately to pass off as your own work ,style and sell.
I will not be sharing future paintings from my horse racing collections as I believe it isn't fair to the collectors who wish to purchase my original art. I know this is a sad move because my new paintings have far more energy and life in them than ever before as they have evolved with my style. But I owe loyalty to those who are looking forward to seeing and owning my new work.
I am joining and following the advise of experienced and established artists who show very limited paintings online. Whilst I am very generous with my teaching and techniques which I adore sharing and will continue to do, my main gallery work will now be kept in the galleries. This news will come as a blow to the particular artist who will now have to depend on their own ideas for new work or they can continue to repeat and copy their previous "copies".
It is a shame as I am very excited about where my new collections are heading but I am aware of an area of my art life I am moving into that warrants serious decisions.
Original art needs to be just that.