So I copied a painting once... about 10 years ago. Who cares? ... people copy paintings all of the time. Even old masters learned by copying the masters before them. So what kind of barriers did I put up for myself to make me think it wasn't OK to copy other work? Maybe it was because I sold it too... ( GASP ). I never hid the fact that it was a copy, in fact, the buyer was quite impressed with my forgery and was probably pleased he didn't have to pay $250,000 for it. I didn't sign it and also gave full credit to the artist on the back. During the process of copying I found that I was learning about the artists palette and brushwork. The painter was Tom Thomson. I have never been a huge Thomson fan but always admired the way he painted. Obviously, I was unable to ask him any questions about his work so naturally the next best way would be to reproduce one. "Autumn Birches" was my favourite. Verging on abstract, one can see a possible direction Thomson was heading... or perhaps just an efficient way of putting key information down for later. So again, what sort of barriers did I create that kept me from using the valuable practice?
A few nights ago a good buddy posted a video of Weezer performing a cover of Toto's "Africa" and "Rosanna". As a long time fan of both of their music, I took great enjoyment out of listening to it. This morning I played them for Krista and something suddenly made sense to me... I had a realization. I'll get to that soon.
- In popular music, a cover version, cover song, or simply cover, is a new performance or recording by someone other than the original artist or composer of a previously recorded, commercially released song.- wikipedia
So shortly after introducing the new Weezer tunes to Krista I went to my studio and let YouTube show me several other covers by several other bands. I was simply edging paintings at that time so I was able to enjoy most of what I heard and, on occasion, even press repeat. I was surprised to hear Rivers Cuomo ( of Weezer ) playing covers of Green Day, Radiohead, the Pixies and many others. From there I found The Foo Fighters singing "Never gonna give you Up" by Rick Astley. Judging by Dave Grohl's enthusiasm, he was obviously a fan and was enjoying himself ( still not sure how he influenced The Foo Fighters but who cares... he made it work ). Further more, I found Dave Grohl singing a CCR song with Zack Brown. Many of the greatest songs of our time were made more popular than the original versions... some are surprising...
Elvis Presley... "Blue Suede Shoes"... a cover
Johnny Cash... "Ring of Fire"... cover
Jimi Hendrix... "All Along the Watchtower"... cover
Cyndi Lauper... "Girls Just Want to Have Fun"... cover
Soft Cell... "Tainted Love"... cover
Aretha Franklin... "Respect"... cover.
The list goes on and on.
So this all brings me to that realization I mentioned earlier... Why haven't I "covered" more Artists' work? There is a multitude of work out there that I love and admire, much of which has had a great impact on my own art. Some paintings probably hold the answers to so many of my questions. So why have I not allowed myself to do this? I suppose one possibility was diving head first into this whole "art thing" twenty years ago and conditioning myself to produce what I thought had to be "original", "pure" work. I discovered safe "rules" on how to get inspired. It is clear to me now that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery". It is also a vital tool to learning. After that, it can be seen ( with credit given where credit is due ) as a tribute or a tip of the hat.
Perhaps there will be a few "covers" in my near future... stay tuned!
-Thank you to everyone who came out for the 25th annual London Artists' Studio Tour. We welcomed approx. 400 visitors and enjoyed talking about my new work. We are looking forward to next year!
-Saturday, June 9th is the opening of "Terrain", a group exhibition of 10 local artist with a landscape theme. It will take pplace at Shane Norrie Contemporary in Stratford. The show begins at 12:00 and continues until 4:00. I have seen a few pieces from the other artists and it looks to be a great show. If your unable to make it please check out their website as they will go LIVE at 12 and you can browse and purchase work online. www.sncgallery.com.
-Thanks once again for the emails, comments and questions. They are always welcome and greatly appreciated.
Krista and I recently made a day trip to Rock Glen Conservation area and here is one of the 5 pieces I have completed since...
"Falls at Rock Glen", 30"x30" acrylic on support panel $1250 CAD