Taking art lessons

I have been taking some art classes from a lady who does beautiful paintings. She had us paint a scene that looked familiar so I looked it up on line. I found it from the original artist. Now my painting is almost done and I don’t know what to do . Should I trash it, change it or put it in the closet with the other unsellable paintings? What are the rules on this please?

Is this an old painting that is in the public domain? If so, there is no problem copying it, especially as a teaching exercise. However, even some historical paintings are copyrighted by museums and collectors.

If she led you to believe the piece you are copying is her own original art–or if some of her paintings are copies of others’ original works–that is disturbing, especially for a teacher. If it is still under copyright, I would begin by asking if she has the original artist’s (or copyright owner’s) permission to use the painting in this manner. If the answer is “no,” I would tell her that this is a violation of copyright for which she possibly could be sued if the copyright holder became aware that she is profiting from this usage. (To say nothing of the bad example she is setting for her students.)

As far as what you do with your own painting, if it is a copy of a historical painting, I would make that clear however you may use it. (So as not to look stupid to anyone who may recognize it or like you’re attempting to become a forger. :wink: ) While copyright registration and proof of someone profiting from infringement usually are necessary for an artist or copyright holder to seek damages, artists automatically own the copyright to their work from the moment of its creation. So if your painting is obviously a copy of another artist’s copyrighted work, that would go in the closet.

The problem arises with a copyrighted work if one sells the copy or uses it for commercial gain in one way or another. I do believe you can keep your copy or gift it to someone, do long as they do not sell it.

Thank you .Since I am not finished with this painting I think I will change it completely. I will not be taking lessons from her again unless I know it is from her own work.

Thank you. I will value the lesson as things learned but change the painting.

The others have covered pretty much everything, but I would like to add this thought.
A very renowned senior artist in our city was a juror for a prestigious exhibition. He was asked
what he thought about originality. In short, his response was that what he looks for is the persons own take, voice, or observation about a subject. Today, images speed around the globe, available on the internet, print, film, and so on. Ideas, ditto. Almost everything has a familiarity about it and it is almost impossible to avoid reference to another work. Studying another work is time honoured way to understand another person’s approach to a subject. Putting your own name on it, is not. Observe, understand, learn, then develop your own approach .Add your own special insight, find your own specific style. PS As a teacher, if I use another persons as a resource, one must acknowledge the source.


Nicoletta, Thank you, maybe I will keep it but acknowledge the artist who inspired it (and also change it up a bit so it is not a total copy) I have taken classes before where the reference material was from other art but was encouraged to change it. I have also painted along with Bob Ross and other artist for the sake of learning. My problem was that my painting was almost done before she told us- this is from an another artist, therefore you can’t put it on face book or sell it. I am a good enough artist that I can copy other work if I want to but I went there to learn not to copy.

When I took my first painting lessons, we copied paintings from Walter Foster books. There was no doubt that we were copying someone else’s paintings! We also copied photos from magazines, which would be a total copyright violation now, but back then we didn’t think much of it. None of us were going to publish our paintings or sell prints, so it didn’t seem to matter.

I think it’s troublesome to copy a living artist’s work, and not be informed of that beforehand. It’s one thing to copy from Walter Foster or Bob Ross, but quite another to copy from Richard Schmid! You need to know this ahead of time.

I personally wouldn’t mind copying from a Richard Schmid (or whoever) as long as I knew that’s what I was doing beforehand, because I could prepare myself for the idea that I can’t post this on Facebook, I can’t put it up for sale. “Master Copies” are good practice, and there’s no shame in doing them them. But you need to know ahead of time.

So you took a class where you were copying the art of others? But surely you could see it was a painting not a photo and so it was someone else’s work. Were you just uninformed at the time that that was for learning only? I guess you learned more than just painting.

I was thirteen years old when I studied from Walter Foster, and it wasn’t as if I was using these Walter Foster-copied paintings to enter galleries! LOL! And, have you ever heard of Master Copies?