Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Replicating Paintings and Quilt Delivery

There's been a lively discussion on the Contemporary Quilt Yahoo Group on quilts replicating famous paintings -whether it's allowable or despicable (well perhaps not quite that wording but you get the drift) For the record, I've never slavishly copied a painting exactly but I have tried to analyse and duplicate some of the effects in those I admire and learnt a lot in the process. It's worth pointing out that all my studies , while I might have used postcards or books as reference, have been based on paintings I've seen 'in the flesh' and often spent some time looking at.So you might say that they are as much about my interaction with the work as a fascimile. In the 1998 there was a Paul Bonnard exhibition at the Royal Academy. The emphasis was on on colour as he was painting at a time when colour theory was being developed and indeed when you looked at many of them, there was a lot of use of complimentary and triad colour schemes. Paul Bonnard Dining Room in the Country 1913 was the inspiration for the piece above(Bonnards Window I) Trying to match paint colours and tones in particular in fabrics was a challenge. I learnt a lot about composition and balance and the effect of different proportions of colour. A second piece based on door opening onto garden , with a complimentary scheme of purple and yellow, made it onto the advertising poster for Festival Of Quilts at Lords Cricket Ground in 1999(remember that?)

I've long been a huge fan of Paul Klee and Florentine Villas was one of my favourites when I first visited the Pompidou in Paris 20 years ago. The original is very textured with a heavily scored plaster-like surface, well suited to its subject of crumbly architecture. When I first tried silk painting 15 years ago I used a photo of this painting as inspiration , using gutta to inscribe the lines which were then quilted in silks afterwards (above). It worked reasonably well - best in those areas that were completely unlike the original and which made the most of the properties of the silk and paint itself. I discovered the drawbacks in working from somebody elses work (or indeed photographs): you don't have sufficient information and it was a bit lifeless -little of 'me' in it.

His watercolours were some of the highlights of a Paul Klee exhibition at the Hayward Galllery in 2002 - many of them tiny in comparison to their much published reproductions. The above piece 'Greetings from Gafsa' was inspired by his paintings of Tunisia rather than a copy - I went on holiday there in 1997 and shared a room with an artist, with impromptu 'colouring-in' sessions in the evenings. (I got quite good at drawing camels too). The view from a rather seedy hotel included satellite dishes - I'm sure Klee would have appreciated those.
This time I was interpreting my own painting in fabrics - still a challenge but ultimately more satisfying.It featured in the Quilters Guide for Pictorial Quilts (check out the copyright and content pages! ). I'm returning to Tunisia this Xmas , you can be sure I'll pack my paintbox

In the ten years or so since these works I've gradually moved towards direct painting on fabric based on my own sketches and source material .However I wouldn't dismiss copying the work of great artists, you can learn so much but acknowledgement is crucial.

Despite a viral infection over the weekend I managed to finish my FoQ entry and posted it on Monday ( it arrived, on schedule, signed for ,the following morning) I'm still not showing you the whole thing pending judging (I hope with all these teases that it will not be a letdown when you see it) So you'll have to be content with a sample piece (above) and my July Journal Quilt constructed from the leftovers (below) . As well as pearlescent inks I've been playing with interference paints - what fun .

But will it be judged? I neglected to place a flap of fabric over the label to allow anonimity! My fault for not having a final check of the rules but you'd have thought that they'd have put a reminder on the sheets of labels wouldn't you?


The Idaho Beauty said...

Yes,this has long been a touchy subject, but you have handled it well with your examples. Having just done an exercise of copying a Picasso painting in graphite, I can attest to how much can be learned in the process.And agree that working from pictures rather than the original really does leave you lacking in info you need. The key, of course, is to take what you learn and make it your own, not just make faithful renditions and call them your own.

About me: said...

Yes, it is indeed tricky. I have been looking into this ever since I found one of my quilts on a GCSE Edexel Teachers notes supplement.

Copyright is a minefield, but basically you can copy another artist provided the work is solely for your purpose only, ie it's for your own use, not for exhibition, display, or sale. If however, you use an artist still in copyright (70 years unless famous when someone else will probably have picked up the copyright) you may not reproduce his work in any way whatsoever without permission. Even if the copy is substantially altered from the original, if it can trace it's roots back to another artist, it's in breach of copyright. So for example, technically, David Hockney would be in breach of copyright for copying Vincent Van Goghs chair even though his paintings are substantially altered. You can still see where the idea came from. (nb I expect he got permission first) Not many people know that. In fact at college only a few weeks ago, I was told that you could use other peoples work as a base and provided you altered it you'd be ok. Not true it would appear.

DACS is the best site for checking this out if you want further information. They have lists of who is in copyright and who is not, and they will also chase up people who break copyright law at no expense to the artist...and do, frequently! So we'd best all beware. Annabel x

Susan Briscoe said...

Heh, I found the info re labelling for FoQ entries a bit sketchy - I wasn't sure re the covering the ID label bit, so I phoned them re labelling generally. Apparently, their label can go anywhere (?!), so I used it to cover a simple ID label (including my address). After all, our names are on their official labels... all too confusing IMHO. My usual method (for other quilt shows) is to incorporate an ID label under and/or into the hanging sleeve, so it can't be seen once the quilt ishung for judging.