What follows is a thread I started on a Yahoo discussion group, in 2004.  The topic I raised?  How do you feel about fan art that’s been, to some degree, mechanically produced/enhanced?  Since there are a lot of TV and movie fans that are interested in art, I thought some might find this interesting.


(The thread has been edited for the sake of readability and to protect the various contributors’ privacy.)




Recently, I had the pleasure of looking at an astounding portrait of an actor in a TV series.  Unfortunately, I knew the drawing was probably traced from a screen capture from a videotape or DVD, and that got me thinking about some of the artwork I saw at the recent fan gathering called Media West.  In the event’s art gallery, I saw a number of paintings and drawings that were created by people in other fandoms.  Some were incredibly well-executed, others a little less so.  I stopped at the mini-gallery of one artist in particular, blown away by her paintings.  I mean, they were absolutely fantastic!  She must've had at least twenty portraits of characters from different shows/movies that were nearly exact likenesses.  It was amazing to me to see such otherworldly talent, and I ended up gushing over her and talking to her for a bit about her techniques.  She described the pencils, paints, and mediums she uses, all the while people were swarming around her portraits and putting down bids for them (MW hosts an art auction). 

Thinking about my own art and how long it takes me to execute one drawing or painting, I asked her how long it took her to do the two dozen or so pieces she'd submitted to the MW gallery.  I was figuring she'd probably been working on her portraits since last year's auction.  I nearly had a heart attack when she told me it had taken her approximately two months.

Two months?!  She’d painted that many outstanding portraits in that short a time period?!  She laughed at the look on my face and confirmed, yes, that's all the time it took.

No kidding, I looked back at her paintings and just couldn’t believe it!  They were all-but-exact images of the actors.  Then a thought occurred to me, one prompted by my reading an article in an artist's magazine the previous week.  I asked her if she used a projector to do her artwork.  She suddenly looked embarrassed and like she didn't know what to say, then admitted, yes, she did use a projector.

Well, that's where my question for you guys comes in -- what do you think of art that's been produced by fans via the use of projectors (which transfer an image of a photograph onto a piece of paper or canvas that is then traced) and/or computer generated "art" (I saw this too at Media West - printed out photos of actors that were then doctored with pencils and/or paint)?


I don't know...it doesn't seem kosher to me.

After talking to the artist at MW, I felt like a sports fan who'd gone to the Olympics and cheered for an outstanding athlete, then found out he was so good at his sport because he was on steroids.

Maybe, though, I'm biased because I do all my artwork by hand.  That is, I look at photographs to draw the Combat guys, but I don't use anything but my eyes and a pencil and/or paintbrushes (plus a lot of erasing) to produce my portraits.  I don't even use the "grid" method to recreate the actors' likenesses.  My stuff is all done totally 'free hand'.

Ironically, I read a great art book over the Memorial Day/Media West weekend, one written by a fantastically gifted artist, in which he blasted the use of projectors, etc., too.  But I wonder if generating art artificially is common in fandoms, and if so, whether it's an accepted method of producing work for websites and auctions.  Anyone know?




I received several responses to my post, one of which was “pro-working-with-projectors/computers/etc.”  This gave me the opportunity to dialogue more in depth about artificially produced art, and what follows are more of my comments on the topic plus answers to questions the writer posed.




First off, I'd like to thank all of you who responded to my post.  I asked what you thought about art that's artificially produced (to one degree or another), and I appreciate, very much, each and every one of your posts.


In regard to specific comments one of you made – saying you never realized someone might use a projector to do portraits, that it would lessen the importance of the artwork in your eyes, and that it wouldn’t be fair to compare that kind of work with mine – I have to agree.  Until recently, I hadn't thought about people using projectors and/or software, but once I heard of it, it lessened the importance of the artwork in my eyes too.  If I were to admire an artist's paintings and decided to purchase one (at a cost, usually, of hundreds to thousands of dollars here at our local art galleries), I'd feel conned if I were to learn later that the portrait or landscape was so fine because it'd been traced or drawn/painted over a software-generated image.  As someone else noted, anyone can trace something (and I do believe anyone can color something...although it's true, some stay in the lines better than others).

Granted, I might still buy the art if I liked the subject of the painting and/or drawing, but I'd want to pay less for it -- according to the less amount of work the artist had to do to create it.  But artists who use projectors and software don't inform the patron or customer about using such "time savers", so how’s the buyer to know what she’s actually purchasing?


And why don’t the artists make that information available?  Could it be because creating art this way seems a bit unethical?  And knowing how the art's produced does diminish its importance in the viewers' eyes?

It seems to me the artist who makes use of "aids" ought to be up front about it and give her buyers a discount.

And what about the artist-who-uses-aid’s peers -- those artists who don't use artificial means to produce their work?  Is it fair to the artists who spend many, many hours painstakingly creating something "from scratch" to have their art judged alongside projector/software-generated portraits that are so remarkably accurate?  And created with less effort, to boot? 

Even having a "general outline" is better than starting with a blank page.  I know, because I'm very, very familiar with how difficult it is to get a subject-of-a-portrait's eyes spaced just so, to "rough in" his bone structure (forehead, brow bone, cheek bone, jaw line), to accurately judge the length of his nose, to place each and every body part (eyebrows, eyes, nose, mouth, etc.) in relation to each other...every shadow (the values, tones, that create the model's underlying bone structure)...so that the whole of what makes each person's face unique is as absolutely accurate as I can get it.  Get anything wrong, and - zowie - the portrait's off kilter.

And, justifiably, it's not admired.  Or sold.

Of course, I’ve been commenting - while writing the last few paragraphs - on the thought-provoking letter that was written by one of you who disagrees with me, so I’d like to get on with answering your questions.



The writer holding the dissenting opinion had described how her daughter, a talented artist, sometimes traces pictures instead of drawing them by free hand.  The writer had questioned the daughter as to why she did this and relayed the answer that her daughter just wanted to color, not draw.


The writer also talked about a friend of hers, an enormously gifted artist who creates beautiful free hand works but also uses a projector to do some of her paintings.  When the writer questioned the artist as to why she used the projector, the artist said sometimes she just wants to paint, not sketch.


I responded as follows:



Why did you ask those questions if you consider using-aids-produced-art to be on a par with produced-by-your-own-natural-talent-and-blood-sweat-and-tears-art?  It's interesting to me that you'd even ask such things.  In other words, if it doesn't matter if things are traced, why not simply enjoy the artwork for its own sake and say nothing about tracing at all?

But no matter, the answers you were given were interesting too.  An artist saying she just wants to color or paint is fine.  But what she’s coloring and/or painting isn't hers.  And that's my point -- artwork that's traced isn't much different from working with a coloring book.  Do people get all excited over a child's drawing when she shows them her crayola'ed Spiderman?  Or do they get all excited over her coloring?  I know I wouldn’t rip out a coloring book's page, frame it, and tell grandma and grandpa that my daughter was a fabulous artist -- look at the portrait of Spiderman she just drew.  Rather, I’d brag about her coloring to the relatives.


The writer had then gone on to comment that “time saving devices” (projectors and using the grid method – a method I don’t have too much of a problem with since a person using it still has to do the actual drawing of the portrait herself) allow a person to more quickly get to the actual part of the art she *wants*  to do (painting, for instance), as well as to generate enough work to make a living.


Time saving devices?  For art?


And cranking it out - via production line methods - to make a living?


That doesn’t seem much different than working up mass-produced decorative “art” -- copies of paintings that are printed out on canvas or cardboard and then gone over with paint and/or varnish to mimic brushstrokes, which a buyer can then order from Pier 1, Bombay Co., and Ballard Design catalogs.


Anyway, the comment you made wasn’t a question, but I'd like to speak to it.  For sure, time saving devices can do the things you've mentioned, by removing the "hard part" of being creative and whisking a person right into the areas where she’s more comfortable/happy working.  Where she doesn't have to do so much painstaking detail work.  Where she doesn’t have to expend so much in blood, sweat, and tears being accurate.

Why, the machine's done it all for her! 

And time saving devices can also make her look like a better artist than she actually is (I know this to be true because I've seen art done by people working free hand and then viewed art done by the same people working with aids, and I know how much better their work is when they use aids.  I know also how much better my work would be if I used aids).

The question is, is the person being an artist?  Or is she coloring in a book?

The answer might not matter to some but, I can't help it, it does to me.


The writer had then questioned whether using time saving devices takes away from the artist’s natural talent and whether using them is cheating.  The writer also wanted to know how many people could create beautiful artwork while using such aids (implying that only gifted artists can create lovely portraits while painting over traced images).


My answers?

Yes, much less talent is used.

Yes, it's cheating.

And many more people could produce beautiful portraits with such aids than without.


Besides, as someone viewing a painting, shouldn’t I be the one to decide for myself whether or not the artist who created it has talent?  Why should I take someone else’s – or the artist’s – word for it that she (the artist) is incredibly talented?  I think the artwork alone should be the determining factor.


The artist might be able to paint very well -- but she might also do a poor job of making accurate drawings.  She might be able to lay down oils or watercolors or charcoals or pastels or inks over images of children in a way that takes my breath away -- but she might also fail to capture the children’s likenesses if she tried drawing them.


Again, the artwork itself (artwork that’s done in its entirety by the artist) should be what allows me to judge whether or not the artist has extraordinary talent (even when it comes to the talent used to execute a specific painting)…




…the artist (or a plaque or some such thing) should volunteer the information that a portion of the artwork I’m admiring was done using a machine.  That way, I can evaluate the artist’s talent in a more informed way.



The writer had then wanted to know whether a fanfic reader should have less admiration for fanfic writers who use their particular brand of "projection  -- namely, writing about characters who have been created by other authors.


Here, I believe you're comparing apples to oranges.  Unless the writer's reworked (or outright copied) a plot, descriptions, text, dialogue, etc., she's lifted from another writer's work or the TV show/movie itself (which is plagiarism...definitely frowned upon in all writing circles for obvious reasons), she hasn't used any "projection" to create her fanfic.  All that's written is her work and hers alone.

However, all the Combat fanfic authors, as far as I know, are still honest about the fact that their stories have been inspired by (not directly copied from) the show, and that the show's characters are not their own creations.  Each writer's got blurbs at the top of her tales which state the characters don't belong to her (or that they belong to ABC or Selmur or whoever it is they belong to), that the stories are based on a particular TV show, that she's not making any profit off her work, etc.  And where actual dialogue or descriptions of scenes or continuations of plots (or alternatives to them) are used in a fic, the fic author gives the writer of the original Combat episode credit (or states something like "take-off on the episode The Long Way Home").

Do the artists who use "time saving aids" write "traced from a photo of Johnny Depp" anywhere on their artwork?

Not as far as I know.


The writer had then asked whether fanfic writers are cheating, whether their stories are less painstakingly crafted, whether their writing has less worth (because it contains elements that aren’t original to the author).



I've already spoken to this, more or less, but I don't mind saying again (while hoping everyone’s patient ) that a fic story isn't being "traced" from another story -- unless specific things in it are taken from someone else's writing or directly from the TV show.  And in that case, most of the Combat writers make sure the readers are told outright that those things aren't original.  For instance, I didn’t want to take credit for the lines in my story "Steiner" that were written by Ed Lakso, so I named him as the author of the episode, The Long Way Home, at the top of my story so he would get credit where credit was due -- specifically, for his original characters in the tale (ie, Steiner, Brummel, etc.) and for the scene or "set up" of the plot (an interrogation taking place in Steiner's cottage in a POW camp).  I also wanted to make clear that there were specific lines of dialogue in the tale that were written by another author (and every fan of Combat familiar with the show knows which ones those are, but I'll gladly tell any fan who isn't which ones they are).

Are my stories less painstakingly crafted?  Yes -- everywhere where I've simply transcribed the dialogue from one of Combat's episodes.  And where I've used elements of plots I didn't create.  And where I've written about characters I didn't invent.

But I'm honest about it.  And I don't put my fic out there for the world to see and think it’s entirely my own work.

And is my writing diminished?  Well, maybe you could say so.  Fanfic isn't exactly the toast of literary circles.  And although it's becoming recognized as, perhaps, a credible type of writing now that it's become so big on the 'net, it's still not exactly the type of thing Doubleday and Signet are all clamoring to publish.


The writer had then gone on to say that she chooses to go on appreciating and admiring the talent of fanfic writers since they put a great deal of time, creativity, and heart into their work, just as she chooses to admire the works of everyone who creates fan art.




I choose to admire the talent of everyone who creates things too -- just as long as I know that talent’s actually gone into creating them, and to what degree talent’s gone into creating them.

I read a fic story a few years ago written by an author whose talent I didn't choose to admire because, while the actual writing in the story was hers -- the descriptions of the action and lines of dialogue were her own writing, I recognized the story's plot as being one that had been directly lifted from a story penned by another writer.  And because of that, I felt cheated as a reader.  And I felt that the original author had been cheated even more.

Should I have admired the second author for the story as much as I admired the original author for her writing?  Would it be fair to compare the two authors' tales?  And what if the second author's writing had been more polished, more clever, more exciting (it wasn't) than the first writer's?  Would it have been fair to place them both - as artists (authors) - on a level playing field?

I don't think so, and I know I'm not alone in my thinking.

Anyone remember the pop duo Milli Vanilli?  Two singing sensations who came down the pike in...I don't know...the eighties?  Despite being talented artists -- they could dance, act their way through videos, and look way better prancing around than Prince -- they were stripped of their Grammy and basically fired as superstars once it was found out they were lip synching to "their" music.

Sad that it happened, but are you utilizing your talent you've "advertised" you have?  Or are you not?

In the case of Milli Vanilli, just being the "top layers of paint" apparently wasn't good enough.


The writer had then gone on to ask if a pianist is less talented while playing a composition that’s not his or her own.



Here, I believe, more apples are being compared to oranges.  A pianist isn't a composer, nor is she being given credit for composing the music she's playing (unless, of course, she is actually the composer).  She's being given credit (and applause and admiration) because of how well she plays the composition, not because she wrote it.

Artists using aids, however, are being applauded and admired for drawing the subject of their portraits (not simply for the paint they're putting on top of a mechanically acquired drawing).


The writer had also asked whether a fanfic author’s less talented because she crafts stories using characters that aren’t her own creation, and whether an artist is less talented because she paints an image that she’s projected onto a support (paper, canvas, cardboard, etc.) instead of drawing it by free hand.


Again, I've already answered these questions, but I'll add...

No, an author's not less talented, but she's also working less hard than she would be if she had to come up with everything in a story "from scratch".

And an artist also possesses whatever talent she had before she traced whatever it is she traced.


But the artist who is less talented can appear to be more talented than she is when she's tracing her work....or she draws/paints over computer generated pictures.

And that, for me, is a problem.

Definitely, my work would be better if I traced things.  Since I'm a human being and not a machine, all of my artwork suffers from imperfections.  But I wouldn't use artificial means to produce artwork since I want my art to be mine and, I'll just say it outright, I think it's unethical to promote my drawings/paintings as something they're not...

...basically, mine in their entirety.


The writer had then stated that she wouldn’t want to “shoulder the responsibility of standing in judgment of art”.


I'm not sure I understand this last comment since there's no responsibility to shoulder when it comes to standing in judgment of art.  Art's just art.  And all people judge it as they judge everything else they see (hear, taste, smell, whatever).  I don't disagree that people, for centuries, have been educated and paid to judge art, and artists in turn have either tried to please or shock their critics, but art critics' opinions aren't any more important than anyone else's.  Professional critics might be more informed about techniques and the latest art theories and philosophies and various schools of thought but, really, who cares?  If only art critics were qualified to pronounce things "art" (or rubbish), there wouldn't be any Manets, Monets, Pissarros, Cezannes, Gauguins, Van Goghs, etc., hanging in so many museums. 

(And if I had my way, there wouldn't be any Kandinskys, Pollocks, De Koonings, Reinhardts, Klees, etc., hanging in so many museums since I think their works - for the most part - are rubbish.  I think art critics, a lot of times, are like the emperor wearing new clothes -- feed them enough baloney and they’ll run around naked.)

Anyway, in closing, again I thank all of you for sharing your thoughts since I love anything that makes for a good discussion (and, hey, I also love to find out some people agree with me).

As for who the MW artist was, I'm sorry, but I don't remember the person’s name (and, geez, I'd hate to “out” somebody anyway).




Another writer asked whether, by a projector, I meant the camera obscura – a device that art historians speculate Johannes Vermeer may have used while painting.  The writer also stated that she likes Vermeer’s work very much.



I'm familiar with Jan Vermeer and his reported use of the camera obscura.  In fact, it's interesting to me that in all my art books (three of which are about him and his work alone) the authors make a point of, well...pointing that out.  Could it be because his methods of working did/do make a difference in how his artwork was/is judged?  And exactly how much Vermeer relied on the device while creating his art is still a heavily debated topic (in hoity-toity art circles anyway).  Did he simply look at the images the camera obscura produced for him?  Like I look at photos, snappies, ebay images of canteens and bayonets when I draw?  Or did he trace the images?

While I also enjoy Vermeer's work (I've got at least 10 small prints of his paintings hung in my house, and my favorites are The Glass of Wine, Woman Holding a Balance, and The Milkmaid), the thought that the images he painted so beautifully might've been traced does cause me to admire the works of Rembrandt and Frans Hals, two of Vermeer's contemporaries, a wee bit more.

Are the projectors some people use today to trace images onto their supports the same as the camera obscura?  I don't know, really, since I've never seen one (a modern projector-device, I mean).  But I'd kind of doubt it.  Probably the camera obscura was a primitive forerunner of anything that's being used today.

(And don't forget -- in the world of fan art, people are even drawing and/or painting over computer-generated images -- something I think is even more "dishonest" than tracing pictures).

I thought it was interesting to see the camera obscura in the film "Girl with a Pearl Earring."  I read the novel last winter and just rented the movie on DVD at the beginning of the month.  Descriptions of the device always made it hard to picture how it looked and worked, so to finally get a look at (no doubt, a replica of) one was cool.




The first writer then wrote again, saying that she chooses to appreciate artwork in any form for its quality, the subject matter, and her interest in it, no matter what process the person used to create it.


I’ll have to choose to frown on what I consider to be cheating, and to wish all artists were on a level playing field when it comes to how their artwork's viewed.  Free hand artist "A" having her portraits displayed on a website or in a gallery next to she-traces-things artist "B" is at a disadvantage when the critics (or fans who attend Media West) are handing out blue ribbons and their cash and are deciding whose artwork is "best in show".



The writer had then  stated that fan art – even though it’s beautiful and created by talented artists – probably won’t find its way into galleries and be deemed masterpieces. She also said that fan fiction – while well-done and fun to read – probably won’t be historically preserved as classic literature, and that these observations  were a gentle and well meant reminder to herself and everyone else who could appreciate its “worth and irony”.



I think I mentioned the other night that fanfic's not exactly the toast of literary society, so I've already got that thought in mind.

On the other hand, there is fan art that's been designated masterpieces and that's hanging in galleries and museums.  Portraits of famous people have been done for centuries by artists who were fans of kings, queens, presidents, saints, actors, actresses, authors, musicians, dancers, even other artists (not all such portraits were commissioned -- they were painted simply because the artist admired...was a fan of...the subject of his painting).  For decades now too there've been artists who've drawn/painted movie stars, showbiz icons, rock musicians, noted athletes, etc., who've gotten their artwork in museums and galleries (and they make a gob of money off it too).

Drawing or painting someone famous doesn't denigrate the art.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the MW artist has portraits of famous people she admires in galleries somewhere.


Finally, the writer stated that maybe we shouldn’t take ourselves so seriously and that we should have a little more fun.



Stop taking ourselves seriously how?  When it comes to me personally, do you mean as an artist?  Because my art has little value since I draw actors?  Or do you mean I shouldn't care how my art is perceived?  Whether or not it's judged fairly?  Whether or not people know that since it's truly, 100% mine it can't compete with art that's artificially produced/enhanced?

I wouldn't consider submitting any of my work to the Media West gallery now.  I could never compete for awards and the money of potential buyers (or even the compliments of fans who've just looked at a bunch of near perfect likenesses of actors who were traced) against people who are using projectors and software.

I guess rubbing elbows with people who have an advantage over me has made it a little harder to "have a little more fun"...and I suspect most people would feel that way.  But maybe you wouldn’t.  I don't know.


But I'm glad you shared your opinion -- it gave me the opportunity to really think through and so solidify mine.




A third writer commented that computer art is cool, but wanted to know if a person couldn’t tell it’s computer art.


Yes, some you can tell.  It's pretty obvious.  And it can be appealing too.  Definitely worth purchasing if you like it (and if someone did something nicely decorative with a computer-generated image of Caje, I'd plunk down some bucks for it).

But some computer-generated art isn't so obvious.  You can do a lot with photoshop and/or other fun-with-art software.  And if you were to print out let's say a snappie on a sheet of drawing paper, using the lightest ink setting on your printer, you can get a terrific image to lay graphite pencil, colored pencil, "paint" pencil, charcoal, chalk, pastel, ink, watercolor, acrylic, and/or oil paint over (and oil paint that's thinned down quite a bit has the fluidity and transparency of watercolor - ideal for painting over pencil lines so that you don't "lose" the image underneath).

In fact, since thinking about all this, I worked up a little "drawing" last night, using my ancient Adobe software (and I mean it's ancient.  Nowadays Adobe software's probably capable of taking your pictures for you, enhancing them, cropping them, and printing them out, all by itself, so you - the "photographer" or "artist" - can sit in front of the TV, drink a beer, eat popcorn, and...)

Uh...what was I talking about?

Oh, yeah.  Working up a "drawing".

Anyway, I pulled up a photo I have archived and took it through three different processes.  First I converted it to a "lined" image.  Then I lightened it.  Then I drew over it, using my computer mouse. 

Voila!  Instant art!

Now I could have printed out - very faintly - the lightened, lined image, then drawn over it with graphite pencils, charcoal, and chalk, and it would look even more authentic -- that is, more like a real drawing.  And, boy, would it be an accurate likeness!  All done in the space of a couple hours (as opposed to my Kirby-lookin'-buff drawing, which took me a couple weeks).

Should I put the "drawing" on my website and allow folks to think it's something I drew from scratch?

Or would it be more ethical to write "The drawings, painting, and computer-generated artwork on this page are copyrighted by the artist, Terry Pierce”?

I think it'd be ethical to do the latter.  And I wouldn’t try to sell the drawing at MW --  while basking in all kinds of art aficionados’ praise -- unless the people looking at it knew exactly what it was.

Anyway, I hope, gentle writer, that I answered your question...somewhere in there. <g>



The writer who previously wrote about the camera obscura commented that she attended an exhibit of Vermeer’s work, thought it was beautiful,  and was very impressed by the way he was able to capture light and textures on canvas (she also commented that she wasn’t certain to what extent the camera obscura could have aided the artist in doing this).


Oh, I'm positive it was beautiful.  And I also hope people haven't gotten the impression by what I've written so far that I think produced-by-using-aids-artwork is unappealing!  On the contrary, I think it's often more appealing and impressive than artwork that's done by free hand (anyone who was at the MW gallery and saw some of the less accurate portraits on display will probably agree).

As for being a fan of Vermeer, count me in.  As I mentioned in a prior post, I also admire his work.  His handling of brush and paint was absolutely superb.

When it comes to how much the camera obscura factored into his rendering of light and texture, I'm not sure anyone today could definitely say.

But can using a projection device assist an artist when it comes to modeling her subject (that is, "shading" the drawing so it takes on volume)?  Definitely.

Everyone's probably seen paint-by-numbers sets, right?  If not, they're little kits that contain a "drawing" of a landscape, horses, a still life, whatever it is a person wants to paint.  The drawing is not only composed of the subject's general outline, but also many, many little shapes that, when filled in with paint, produce the subject's "3-D" (for lack of a better term) likeness.

An artist using a projector to get an image on her support can very lightly trace shadows and highlights off a photo.  Basically, she winds up with paint-by-number shapes that let her know where she should place her values and tones (boy, am I massacring these concepts while trying to explain all this).  Then, using a graphite pencil or charcoal and chalk, she can cross-hatch the highlights and shadows into these faint outlines, smear them a bit with her finger and - voila again - she's got wonderful light effects.

(Or she can fill in the outlines with oil paint and then gently blend everything together with a dry or fan brush.)


The same writer had then wondered if critics think less of artwork that’s done by an artist who’s aided by assistants or his pupils (such as was the case with many of the Old Masters).


In the case of the Old Masters?  Probably not.  Because art critics know that way back in the old days, a master artist offered a service to his community, pretty much the same way other craftsmen/tradesmen did.  Artwork was done differently and so is judged by different standards.

(Although critics frown on artwork that's misattributed to a master when it was done solely by one of his pupils.  And not all Old Masters' works were done with the aid of assistants.)

Anyway, back to the system -- you'd have to consider a master artist's studio as his shop where he employed assistants (or he taught pupils) who had a hand in turning out his product to a client's specifications (just like cobblers, blacksmiths, and carpenters' apprentices helped their masters turn out products to their clients' specifications).

The critical thing, though, is that the client knew how the work was done and didn’t expect the master artist to produce the product without the aid of his assistants.

When Pope Julius II commissioned Raphael to paint some stanzas to decorate part of the Vatican, the pope told him what he wanted and knew what he was going to get - nice artwork done by a group of guys led by the master artist.  Raphael sketched and painted one of the stanzas by himself - the Stanza della Segnatura - and the rest were done by his pupils who 'filled in with paint' his remaining sketches.

(As a side note, Raphael's best pupil - Giulio Romano - even finished The Transfiguration after Raphael's untimely death, but that was snatched up by the Vatican too.)

(As another side note, I'll add that the artwork wasn't traced -- neither by the masters nor by their assistants.)

Anyway, clients who commissioned portraits and the like were buying a 'production line' sort of item.  And the master artists did the tough part of the work -- the clients' faces in the portraits, the trickier detail and technical work.  The apprentices would generally do the trees and sky in the background, block in the models' clothes, paint a sitter's pet chicken in the portrait's left hand corner, stuff like that.  And art critics today understand all this, how it all worked.

Still, there's an ongoing debate over the use of 'art assistants' to produce "modern masters'" paintings today -- modern masters who put only their names on the artwork.  Some artists and critics consider using assistants to do anything more than stretch and prime canvases, set up supplies, and sweep out the studio to be unethical.  Other artists and critics look at artwork that's been done by a whole gang of people as pieces that are much like movies you see down at your local theater -- while everyone'll say "Did you see Speilberg's last flick?" we all know Stephen wasn't the only one who put the film together.

Me personally?  I think the movie analogy's a little shaky since Speilberg doesn’t take sole credit for his films but allows the cast and crew’s names to be listed in the credits.


The writer had then stated she agreed it was imperative for an artist’s work to be properly labeled, that market forces would then determine such artwork’s value, and that art galleries and museums do identify the mediums that were used to create pieces of artwork.


You know, there were tiny placards (for want of a better word) next to the artists' works at the MW gallery, but they only listed the medium used to produce the art (oil, watercolor, graphite pencil, etc.) or they stated "mixed mediums".  I'm not sure anyone has ever considered putting "projector" down on the placards, probably because it's not a “thing" (or medium) that's actually appearing on the canvas or paper.

But I agree – somewhere there should be some kind of notation that the artwork's been produced (to some degree) with the aid of mechanical devices.


I also agree that if there’s truth in advertising, market forces will have a better chance of accurately determining the value of such artwork.

And I do think there should be a market for such artwork, because a lot of it is beautiful.  Like I said, I'd buy a good painting or drawing of Caje.

The writer had then wondered if MW (or any such fan gathering) has rules about how artwork should be submitted and categorized for competition.  She also wondered whether or not the use of projectors and software to create art is a relatively new innovation which has left organizers of such events unaware of it.


Boy, I have no idea.  Good questions.


And so ended my posts.


It’s unfortunate, I think, that people who have real talent might be cheating themselves out of the opportunity to grow as artists and improve their drawing techniques because they’re using devices such as projectors.  Even more unfortunate is the idea that “art” is becoming a manufactured commodity where human beings simply “color within the lines” or paint over computer-generated images.  But maybe worst of all is the prospect of being an admirer and patron of the arts, and discovering one is really encouraging and supporting a person using the art world’s equivalent of steroids.


Oh, well…


What’s an art lover to do?  Order mocked-up paintings from Pier 1, Bombay Co., and Ballard Design catalogs – at much cheaper prices – I guess. <g>