“Originality is the art of concealing your sources” ~Benjamin Franklin
Last night I introduced my husband, via the wonders of YouTube, to an singer he was unfamiliar with. His comment was that he liked her general sound but she was not particularly original. I got to thinking then… Is anything ever original? And should we dismiss artists if we consider them unoriginal?
I can’t comment much with regard to music – I am not the audiophile my husband is. I simply listen and either like or dislike. I rarely remember names of bands or musicians, never mind song titles or lyrics. But I can comment as a visual artist.
I paint from references. It was the way I was taught at school. Sometimes the references are mixed up. A face from here, a hand from there and a pattern from somewhere else. I have often had people ask me whether I paint from memory or where I get my ideas from. They seem almost disappointed when I tell them that I paint from other pictures – mostly photographs, but occasionally other artworks.
I have a Jack Vettriano painting hanging on the wall in my lounge. Except it is not Vettriano’s work, it is my my own. I copied one of his paintings, as an exercise in technique. I was pleased with the result and had it framed. The lady at the framing shop tutted in disapproval as did a visitor to my home. I wasn’t trying to pass the work off as someone else’s. I was simply trying to learn the technique of an artist who I thought to be talented and was proud of my attempt.
Sometimes, my ideas an art piece are more abstract or I want to try working with different media. I then scour the Internet, searching for artists who may have tried similar techniques. I like to see their methods and results. At the moment, I really want to attempt a stylised picture etched onto canvas. I have seen it done and loved the effect. The only way I can imagine doing it is to paint Polyfilla onto canvas and then carve or etch into it. I am searching the web to find examples of this technique before I attempt it myself.
Perhaps a fear of failure or criticism makes me hesitant to just experiment and play? As a (mostly) self taught artist, I know no other way to create.
I often doubt my artistic talent and I wonder whether my concerns about lack of originality has something to do with my self doubt?
I would love to hear what other creatives think about this?