Yes, I see your point re: the overuse of copying, using
coloring books and working from photos rather than 'real objects', but I
don't think you drew the best analogy when referring to having students
write a story by going home and copying one out of Reader's Digest as
also an example of why it's wrong to copy, or practice artistic skills by
In the past (as you know) artists would go to museums and draw/sketch the
master's works; the artists' guilds of Europe included budding artists
using both live models/subjects/objects but also would use previously
done paintings/drawings/sculpture as models. Perhaps more so during
Likewise with respect to writers: I seriously doubt any writer simply
wrote essays, poetry, novels in a VACUUM. All the writers I've ever heard
interviewed on radio programs, TV interview shows (such as Charlie Rose
to name one) often mention what writers they've read and who influenced
them or their style. They will often say that to be a great writer one
has to read a lot!
So, you see, this isn't the same as plagarism or copying a
story or idea word-for-word. A good writer had to learn how to spell and
write the alphabet when very young, then increasingly improve their
reading until they could read more and more complex literature, before
they began writing and publishing their own writings.
So learning these basic building blocks would be a better analogy in
comparing students learning to write with students learning to
As for ART and ARTISTS: We can learn, grow, change, borrow, stimulate,
and influence each other as artists (as do writers) from previous works.
I think the mistake we can make is to have students think that they
always need to 'do' or come up with their own unique ideas, images,
impressions, etc. or else they are not really doing art, music, writing.
And all too often we see folks pretending that their works or particular
style is all their own (unique style), not acknowledging whom they were
Just a few thoughts,
-Bob Snyder, Art Ed student, Univ. Maryland