Is it legal to paint a painting we see someone else has created as long as we copy only by eye?
I took an art course once. The professor kept telling us to find images in art books and copy them by eye. She said practicing this way is one of the main ways to learn to paint. She didn't say to trace the image or I would have thought to question it. But for years now I've wondered if it's legal to copy (not trace or use a lightbox, but just draw it by eye and paint it in the way we see the original artist did) so long as we don't sell our rendition of the painting. Does anyone know whether this breaks a copyright law? I've tried to research this many times and never found an answer.
It's a tricky question.........generally speaking, my understanding of copyright infringement says that you can only copy 10% of another design/artwork legally. If you're only using complete copying for your own training and not to sell, ie; keeping the "ripping off" to yourself only, I don't see the problem. But if you think about it, if you try to sell anything that you've directly copied, that is theft and it's why there are copyright laws.......to protect the original artist. Only fair, really.
It is difficult, if the paintings are in the public domain then it is ok to sell them, it is also dificult for anyone to prove that you coppied rather than stood in the spot and painted, or painted the pic from one of your own photographs.
I recently sold a drawing I did of Eastwick church through the mist seen from Parndon Mead. I drew it from one of my own photographs of the area but anyone could have stood at that spot and drew or photographed the scene and no on would know the difference, and that will be the case with most contemporary pictorial artwork. It becomes a problem when, say, someone copies a Robert Wood landscape and then passes it off as his own.
Yes, your lecturer was right, copying is a time honoured way of learning, and learning how others have overcome certain problems of techniques.
Copyright laws in regards to art are a little different than they are in regards to literature. Your professor was right in that the best way to learn technique is to copy other artists' works. My understanding of the law is that it is perfectly legal to sell these works insomuch as you created them yourself. For example: copying a painting with your own paint is fine, photographing a painting and printing it is not. It does get a little trickier. If your skill is such that you are capable of copying a painting exactly as it is then you risk being labeled a forger unless you are actually using the exact copy to make an artistic statement. Of course this also depends on the image you are copying and how much money the owner has to spend on lawyers. I had a professor in college who used the image of tweety bird and never had any problems. I had another professor who used images of a character similar to Micky Mouse and had to fight a court battle. He did end up winning the right to continue using his character, but it was significantly different from Micky. Disney keeps a much tighter control of the ownership of their images.
Picasso once said that good artists borrow and great artists steal. Think about all the artists of the 20th century who copied other artists' work to use as their own; "Brush Stroke, 1965" by Lichtenstein which copied the abstract expressionists, or Many of Andy Warhol's images and others. With art unlike writing it is possible to use the same image to invoke a different meaning. Warhol's brillo boxes which were essentially replicas invoke a different meaning than an actual brillo box. Copyright laws essentially protect ideas not images or words as such. Claiming another artist's ideas as your own will get you in trouble. Using another artist's language to express your own ideas will not.
Actually, it isn't ok to sell them. The owner of the original owns the copyright. If they have gone to copyright.gov and filed a protection on that art, and you copy it and sell it, you could be sued for big bucks.
If you used it for practice, and just kept it as a sample, then that would be ok. You couldn't profit from it, though.
It is best to use your own reference photos and create your own original pieces.
Of course you can copy the paintings from a book. You can even sell them. But why should you.
If you reach the stage that you can copy a masterpiece and it's hard to see the difference and you want to sell it. Well I pity the copycat. Not for copyright reasons. But if you have mastered such a skill, why don't you do your original work, why imitating?
I'm an art teacher, and to be honest I do not promote copying art works. Although you may learn by scrutinizing a work. You do not learn to be creative. And creativity is the most important thing in art, and not only in art but in life in general. Do your own thing. Look at art (a lot), read about art but do your own thing. It's tougher to learn to do your own thing but far more rewarding. And your friends will be far more enthusiastic about an original Dahlia then if you show them a small painting of The Guernica..
I also think copying the masters' work is one of the best ways to learn painting, since all important decisions have already been made, like composition, contrast, value, color, etc. Trying to reproduce them triggers all kinds of good learning in our brain.
I've seen people selling those "copies" specifying that they were "inspired by __famous artist___"
I don't know your skills, but rarely they come out as good as the originals - so there is limited risk of being called a forger. Nevertheless it's a great learning tool.
Art is fascinating, is not it? About your question, I think it's cool, yes, what you are not what you do to assume the right to an image on your behalf, it's not your network.
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