What the artist Adrienne Lewis did for me
When I discovered that a former classmate was most likely imitating my style, I had no idea how much I would learn from the experience.
On my blog, I talk a lot about the wide brushes I use and their impact on my style, about the influence of wood panels on my painting technique, about how injury and chronic illness affect my art, and generally about how my style evolved. (It’s hard to choose just one post for each of those topics to share with you, because they are all things I love to talk about!)
Gwenn Seemel’s David from 2006 and Adrienne Lewis’ The lead singer from 2013
(For more about David, check out this gallery of images.)
For more about Adrienne’s work, check out her website or the original blog post that I wrote about her work, which was a gleeful celebration of imitation.
detail image of Gwenn Seemel’s Lynn from 2011 as well as the full image of James from 2008 and Maman from 2006
Adrienne Lewis’ Hillary from 2014
(I’ve written more about Lynn and James, and for images from 2006 like Maman check out this gallery of images.)
The next two articles that reference her art—this one and this one—were a little different. They reveal that I was feeling sucked dry by what had happened. It wasn’t pleasant and it even caused me to withdraw from my work for a while.
detail image of Gwenn Seemel’s Wade from 2007 and Adrienne Lewis’ Riley from 2014
(The portrait of Wade is painted directly on a canvas bag. For more You Bags, go here.)
My style is imitated quite a bit, but, for the most part, artists who use my art credit its influence publicly, and the value of that recognition is hard to overestimate.
detail image of Gwenn Seemel’s Miharas from 2013 and Adrienne Lewis’ portrait of a dog from 2014
(To see the full portrait of the Miharas, go here.)
Because I know that, I talk a lot about the artists whose creativity inspires mine, but I go further as well: I work hard to avoid taking too much from other people’s art. And “too much” is actually very easy to define: all an artist has to do is ask themselves if they’d be okay having their work juxtaposed with the inspiration’s work and shown publicly. Discomfort at the thought of that happening might indicate that the artist is taking too much. For more on that, check out this video.
Gwenn Seemel’s Lauan from 2011 and Adrienne Lewis’ Lily from 2014
(To learn about the making of Lauan, go here.)
I’ve had to rethink a few things in my life after discovering Adrienne’s art, but one thing I never thought twice about was my commitment to the public domain. It may feel like you’re having all your energy taken when you’re copied without acknowledgment, but that doesn’t mean that art shouldn’t be shared freely. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to get your energy back.
Gwenn Seemel’s Mookie from 2011 and Adrienne Lewis’ portrait of a cat from 2014
(To learn about the making of Mookie, go here.)
I’m about to release a book about why I put my art directly into the public domain. If you want to be notified when it comes out, please email me and I’ll put you on my mailing list.
- -—UPDATE 2014 . 11 . 20—- -
The book is out! It can be read here and purchased here.
- A work’s genealogy / La généalogie d’une œuvre
- Artist Cindi Oldham: an interview about art and imitation
- Being a prolific artist / Être un artiste prolifique
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