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Lesson Plans

Re: Re: Copying can be a learning process

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Fri, 30 May 1997 01:10:12 -0700 (PDT)

In some respects I agree with you. As an art major I have learned that there are some positive aspects to copying. For one thing, the artist's hand begins to learn technique. Also, no matter how hard one tries to make an exact copy, there is always a filtering through the mind of the artist, and that always shows. Although copying is not original, the body learns to manipulate materials, thereby building confidence in the chosen medium and often providing tools to draw upon later. I do not refer here to tracing, but to using another's work of art as a model. I personally have learned some interesting lessons from making 'copies' of sculptures from native cultures gone by, and always there has been some manipulation of media and/or subject matter during the making process. Call it a jumping off point if you will, some copying can build confidence and teach technique through doing. No one disputes however, that this type of art is not original. My point is that it can actually lead one into original
work via learning by doing. One last interesting story from a college english professor: An author of novels was trying to develope a technique for writing best sellers. She had read and written many books over the years but was unable to synthesize it into a 'selling' formula. She got so frustrated that she decided to figure out exactly what made one of her favorite and bestselling authors just that. She reread many of his works, but still was not moving out of her own rut. Out of frustration and inspired by who knows what, she set out to copy, word for word, several of said author's novels to see if her body could learn the process. After copying 3 or 4 entire novels, she found that she could totally anticipate the author's style right down to choice of words and style of prose. She then began to grasp the impact of this particular author's style. When she went back to writing her own works again, she had her first two novels rejected as 'too much like so-and-so'. The exercise had worked a bit too well. But by her third novel after this odd exercise, she found her own style again. It was still her style, but there had been a shift in her method and she attributed that to the copying exercise. She ended up writing some well accepted novels, her own style showing through, but much more polished than before. Her copying exercise had proven to be just the springboard and inspiration she needed to move towards her particular goal: saleable work. Although process is much more important than product for the serious artist, this method seems to have worked both ways for her. Interesting don't you think?

Just a thought...DD Smith -- email me at: (use underscore and note that our server is case sensitive.)