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Re: Erin's Work


From: Larry Seiler (lseiler_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun May 16 2004 - 05:45:01 PDT

> Subject: Erin's work

>I noticed that "Erin" signed her name to a painting
> which is a copy of Van Gogh's "Blue Irises".
> ...I am a stickler about a few things. I do not let them sign their
> on these copies.
> Do you have any feelings about this?

I suppose I should since as a professional painter, I've had works of mine
copied and sold by others. I am still alive, and I suppose gives me some
right to feel jilted. I've had an original painting that was a finalist in
a state competition half-paid for (in other words stolen) and 5,000 prints
made of it without my permission. A loss of about $125,000....and a shirt
company that has ripped me off to the tune of another $125,000 with 36
images I received licensing fees to but not the royalties (sold in 44 states
nationwide in major retailer outfits like Target, Kmart, sporting good
stores) and some percent of them with Miller High Life logos on them. I
certainly know what it feels like to be copied, bullied, ripped,
sure I have some feelings about it all.

For one...I've learned to not take life so serious any more.

Yesterday I made a total idiot out of myself playing golf with my son.
Turning 50 years of age this year, I did not play the game I could and
allowed a growing frustration fester which ultimately caused me to make many
bad shots. I woke up this morning realizing by life averages I have perhaps
20 years left to my life. How much my life has mirrored my golf game. Not
letting things gracefully happen but forcing shots which end up going
erratic. Shots you expect to be a sure thing not getting their proper break
and rolling past, high or low or worse nowhere near to the hole/goal.

I've taken risks in my life as an artist, and held to certain spiritual
principles that have by this world's standards brought me up short. I've
missed the mark. There comes a time where to enjoy the game any have to accept what is as perhaps what is. Play your best ball
and realize when it leaves the clubhead you can't bring it back. Count your
blessings, enjoy the aesthetics of the course...and now as an artist I am
endeavoring to enjoy more the privilege of painting and less how important
it may be I leave any kind of lasting impression in the world.

That being said, I'm more concerned what Van Gogh means to Erin than I am
what Erin means to Van Gogh. Vincent has come and gone...but his work
continues to inspire. Erin has appropriately titled the work to be a copy
of Van Gogh's Blue Irises. She is not suggesting by the signature that Van
Gogh is responsible for her juvenile attempt. No one will be fooled that
this piece is a Van Gogh...and not all would be fooled that it would be her
conception and work alone.

If she attempted to sell this...and hide the fact that it is a Van Gogh
copy, then of course I believe it is a different matter. Sadly, had she
signed Van Gogh's name to it, the credit to her attempt might also be missed
and that it is after all and best a student effort to study a master's work.

Knowing her parents...whose father works at the school, and knowing they
were willing to have it framed, I'll bet the work remains in their home
until one day perhaps it might end up in her own. The name "Erin" on the
work will have special meaning to them and assign a value to it that Van
Gogh's name would not have. In fact, when she sees the piece in her many
years from now it will probably remind her of her effort in the classroom
and my comments, so indelibly in her mind it has my signature upon it
somewhere too.

To sum up...if she goes to art school....this issue will come up again and
she will have to think thru it more personally and philosophically. She
might even take acrylics and paint her name out, who knows? She will bear
the burden henceforth to name it appropriately which will assure Van Gogh
will be present in her mind. I think this is a bit different from the
actual copiers out there who rip artists off.

Lastly...I paint plein air. I am inspired by creation and the more I paint
oudoors on location the more amazed by the beauty of nature I am and yet, I
have not yet once entertained signing the painting "God!" I guess in a
sense, we all plagerize or fail to give full credit where due.
thanks for the was fun, and probably another miss hit ball on my

Larry S.
My websites-

Member of NAPPAP- "National Academy of Professional Plein Air Painters"

"Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do!"
Edgar Degas