Animal Artist ~ Diane Young

Every Picture tells a story – realistic and stylised animals in art from Manic Illustrations

Wranglings with Originality

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What is an “original” painting?

I challenged google with informing me as to what exactly did the word original mean. The information I found was more of a debate than a definitive answer.  My query centred around the idea that when an individual artist designs draws and paints a new piece of artwork can that artist produce the same painting again and it also be referred to as an original?  For instance in many parts of the world artists make a living painting landmarks like the Eiffle tower, or the Leaning Tower of Pisa, are all their like paintings originals?  Or are they copies?  Would it make a difference if they did it from life on a different day, or from a differing photos with all sorts of weather changes?

Let’s back up for a moment,  what is the definition of the word “original” in this context?

Definitions

The online oxford dictionaries definition is as follows:

“-created personally by a particular artist, writer, musician, etc.; not a copy”

This would be true of many similar originals….

“-not dependent on other people’s ideas”…

The design is original so this is true too.

“the earliest form of something, from which copies may be made”

So in order to create copies, the copies come from a singular original.

Prints would be included here as copies or reproductions.  But surely a painting in another’s likeness is still an original, or is it a copy?

If all the colours and lines were copied absolutely exactly then this would be a copy and not an original.  But if the same drawing or design is made without attempt to replicate the first exactly then the drawing will be slightly different and in the organic process of painting there will always be a slight variation in colours (unless one is striving for exact likeness) and so the subsequent painting will be different.

Intention

So is it intention that makes up the essence of a second or third original of the same composition?   I mean if you intend to make a painting look EXACTLY like the first then there is something deceptive about the end result, as if it might be a trick to make you think one painting is the other and vice versa.  But if you paint a painting using the same design or composition  for a similar picture with the essence of the first, but which is actually different, surely it is still original.

For me each original should have its own right to independent original status and for reproductions to be made from it. Each time an artist creates a painting many many decisions are made. It is a complex process which under usual circumstances creates  a different result from the same (or as similar as possible) drawing.  Are you confused, even as write this it is confusing me also, but really i do know exactly what I mean even if really this is not original thinking 🙂

What do you think?

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Author: DianeY

Illustrator Artist

2 thoughts on “Wranglings with Originality

  1. 1 million cameras clicked at the same time produce 1 million original pictures from 1 million ideas; every one an original because that slice of time will never be exactly replicated; it is gone forever but retained in an image which has its own life. The subject, the ET is completely unaltered by having its photo taken, once or a million or even a trillion times; but it too will have aged and changed, so can never be photographed in the same form as the original million . So every image of the ET will always be an original. Copies also will never be exactly the same, even with digital media of the highest quality. Anything you do will be original even if inspired by someone else’s work be it a novel – or anything. Does that help?

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    • I think this is a great subject, either for pondering or something more serious like a dissertation. The opposite argument could be that nothing is original as it has all been “done” before. Painting is a little different from photography as you can persist to try to make two copies exactly the same by referring to the first. I am sure our old Masters have done this but cannot pin point it on the internet currently. I like your point about the subject altering with time though, I had not thought of that one.

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