Artistic authenticity


Now, you know I’m a big fan of the Gram.

It’s to a great place to put your work out for the world to see.

What makes me kind of sad though, is when I see work out there of dubious origin.

I clicked on a post in my Instagram feed recently, thinking I’d missed a painting by one of my favourite artists. It certainly looked like her work, but it wasn’t.  When I say it looked like her work, I don’t mean I thought it looked like something she might paint: no, I thought she was reposting a previous painting.

Not only was this painting very similar (a landscape in oils), but the same person had also just posted work that looked almost identical to some new and very different work my favourite artist had recently released (abstract mixed media). Coincidence?

Looking further back through her feed, it wasn’t clear how she’d arrived at these paintings; not an evident evolving style, not a body of work. Just a few paintings early on that don’t appear to bear resemblance to their newer work.

Sometimes you do see artists with very similar aesthetics.  Usually there’ll be a particular series or point in time where their style will seem similar,  presumably in response to current trends. But there will be a solid body of work over a longer period of time that doesn’t resemble anyone’s art but their own, even if they are inspired and influenced by their favourite artists.

And my own Instagram feed does not tell the full story of my own artistic journey, because I tend to curate my feed, and I don’t want crap I painted two years ago hanging around.

But I do keep everything I painted. And my blog is a record of some of my process. It’s good to pull it all out sometimes and remember how far you’ve come.

I know that feeling, that longing to create good work, to get better. To be desperate to paint your vision.  I still feel that now!  When I was learning, I did copies of other artists work – and credited them properly.  There’s a couple of my Instagram feed, credited to David Atkins and Bob Rohm.

Studying and copying, yes, copying, are perfectly valid forms of learning, particularly for beginners.   Copying your favourite painting is brilliant for understanding decisions another artist made in terms of composition and colour.  Follow along tutorials are another form of copying, all great for getting you going.  And recently one of my IG friends (a brilliant painter) commented she was so frazzled she painted a study of one of her favourite artists,  so she could just paint and not worry about all the other stuff, so she could be soothed by the act of painting.  This is the beauty of art – that it can enrich people in ways other things can’t.

Then there is the baaaddd sort of copying.  Like the sort of thing I saw on Instagram, captioned not with “a study I did of blah blah blahs painting” , but just sort of passed off as their own with some trite ” just a little painting I did today!!!” in the comments.

There’s been a flurry of words around this on Instagram this week – check out Emily Jeffords, she puts this delicate issue across so well, not to berate people but to point out that in copying others, we deprive ourselves and our audience.

I agree.  And I also come back to this post I wrote a while ago after reading Ian Roberts.  No one can be original.  There is no such thing as originality – it’s all been done before.  But, authenticity.  That’s a different thing.

Authenticity does not come from being dazzled by what everyone else is doing on Instagram.  It is not to be found externally.

Authenticity comes from keeping records, journals, sketchbooks and observing.

It comes from making mistakes, exploring, playing, changing things up.

It comes from doing the work, not waiting for inspiration.

Authenticity comes from within. It is an internal process: listening to yourself.  Your fears, your hopes, your vulnerabilities. They will shape your art, along with your creative process. And this will give your work a truth that will shine through, and others will see what you see.  And you will be an artist.



23 thoughts on “Artistic authenticity

  1. Jill's Oil Paintings April 27, 2016 / 1:57 pm

    Beautifully written. I found this inspiring regardless of what other people are doing. Your words are powerful. Thank you. On a related side not, I love to look back at my work and see how one idea and one painting evolved into the next and over a period of time has gone in a completely different direction. That’s why we just need to keep moving forward on whatever it is we are doing. In 20 years from know both us will be doing work that will be totally different but linked all the way back to today. You’re awesome, and I love what you do.

    Liked by 2 people

    • vickihutchinsartist April 27, 2016 / 10:01 pm

      Aw Jill, thank you so much! That’s so kind.
      I know what you mean about work going in all sorts of directions – I’m surprised at how I change course so often actually! Sometimes this unnerves me (think I don’t want to appear a flake!), but I’d get bored if I didn’t explore.
      And I love the idea of us painting in 20 years and reminiscing on the landscape phase, or the floral phase or whatever! x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. REcreate-RebeccaEvansCreate April 27, 2016 / 2:43 pm

    I also like to keep my blog as a personal journey, we are all learning each and every day, as we discussed previously, I don’t think I have a style, and I have dabbled here and there, I think I use different mediums, in different ways, hence no official style to my work…I try to paint more fluidly and free, having watched so many demos, but detail seems to just appear…unless I throw the paint brush away! Love the floral blossom that’s heading this blog post, is this one of yours? Beautiful. Ps hope you are feeling better x

    Liked by 3 people

    • vickihutchinsartist April 27, 2016 / 10:06 pm

      Hi Rebecca – I think we’re a lot alike in the sense that we use whatever medium takes our fancy, in what ever approach we choose that day! Though I always recognise your work when it pops in my reader, before I’ve read it’s your post.
      The floral blossom is one of mine, a mixed media piece I did over a year ago, and I hated it a lot. Now I love it. Sometimes I can’t trust my judgement at all!
      And most limbs are better, except the painting shoulder is taking a while, ugh! x

      Liked by 1 person

      • REcreate-RebeccaEvansCreate April 27, 2016 / 10:27 pm

        Oh that’s Sod’s law that your painting arm is still poorly, it’s frustrating the length of time it takes to heal properly. I’m so pleased you like the blossom painting you did now, I really fell head over heels in love with it straight away, it’s so strange that we can hate something we do, then in time we recall hating it, but can then feel pretty darn positive with love for it?? Look forward to seeing more of your work, when that poorly arm feels it is done with the rest period you have given it 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • vickihutchinsartist April 27, 2016 / 10:46 pm

        Ah, thank you, you’re so kind! Actually, I remember really enjoying doing it, but not the results…funny that, the ones I enjoy are the ones I have an enduring affection for!
        I managed to do a bit of painting today, by painting on my desk – but that gives me neck ache! Shoot me now!

        Liked by 1 person

      • REcreate-RebeccaEvansCreate April 28, 2016 / 6:57 am

        Oh dear, keep up with the pain killers, your heading in the right direction…well done for getting a little painting in.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Moon in Capricorn April 27, 2016 / 5:44 pm

    Excellent post. As an aspiring artist, I know the value of copying from others for a learning experience. At the same time, I understand how important it is for me to discover who I am as an artist. That means trying many different things and making many, many mistakes. It is a journey, and while it’s good to have inspirations from others along the way, we have to go step by step and make our own progress.

    Liked by 1 person

    • vickihutchinsartist April 27, 2016 / 10:12 pm

      You’re right, and it takes a bit of time I think, or it did for me. It sort of happened gradually I think, that things began to consolidate and I could use what I’d learned for my own purposes. Takes a while for things to distill! Good luck in your endeavors though, thanks for commenting, glad you found it useful.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. debiriley April 27, 2016 / 6:52 pm

    I wonder, how we can emblazon this across the sky? lol
    it is all about creator authenticity, absolutely.
    fear less about saying something ‘wrong’ And, care More about saying something that is real to YOU….(not ‘that artist on you tube’)
    What a gorgeous expressive painting you’ve done 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • vickihutchinsartist April 27, 2016 / 10:16 pm

      Ha! thank you Debi! I hated that painting for a long time (I did it last year some time), but I love it now… odd!

      Liked by 1 person

      • debiriley April 28, 2016 / 12:11 am

        it happens! I’ve been so frustrated that it didn’t pan out just like I wanted it to, that I never see (right then) it looks pretty in its OWN way. lol

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Margaret Parker Brown April 27, 2016 / 7:22 pm

    Love your painting very sensitive and your insight inspires me. Striving for authenticity is so important and often a true striving because we admire so many artists and “want to be that good” and yet are in danger of trying to be them rather than ourselves. 🙂 Your post is a good reminder, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • vickihutchinsartist April 27, 2016 / 10:21 pm

      I know Margaret – it’s not that I don’t get caught up in being dazzled by the amazing work of others! It’s easy to compare, and hard not too, and sometimes I’m better at dancing to the beat of my own drum, and other times I wonder should I have joined the other party as it looks more fun! Thank you for your lovely comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Tara Leaver April 27, 2016 / 9:15 pm

    I love this distinction you make between originality and authenticity! I’ve always advocated copying to learn {rather than copying to sell, which feels icky to me}, and recently wrote a post showing how I’ve done that {which was a bit embarrassing but all in a good cause!}. I totally agree that not taking the time to develop your own way – which is hard and takes a long time! – but copying others directly isn’t just a disservice to them but also to you and to everyone else who might be enjoying and being inspired by what you’re creating. I get that usually it’s a confidence thing, but the confidence comes from doggedly pursuing your own path. 🙂 That’s my two cents.

    Liked by 1 person

    • vickihutchinsartist April 27, 2016 / 10:42 pm

      Hi Tara – authenticity seems to be a bit of a buzz word but it’s a worthy pursuit – have you read Ian Roberts or Austin Kleon?
      I like the “copy to learn” approach, will have to see if I can find your post about it, I missed that one.
      You’re right about the confidence issue too, and that does take time. And also, I don’t know about you, but I’m not full to the brim of confidence every single day, y’know? Some days it’s on the floor! Hashtag artlife!


      • Tara Leaver April 28, 2016 / 7:52 am

        Yes it is everywhere isn’t it, like ‘follow your passion’ and ‘seek your truth’ etc! {Gah.} Have read some Austin Kleon but not Ian Roberts. The post is here:, although in looking for it I realised I actually write about this subject quite a bit! And absolutely I’m not always confident about what I’m doing! I think that’s just part of the package, as you say with your hashtag. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  7. lindywhitton April 29, 2016 / 1:30 pm

    I enjoyed your post – I often feel I’ve left some valuable ideas behind as my painting style and mediums have changed over the years but I’ve also gained so much by being willing to move on and evolve. It’s so tempting to cling to what we know works but so much more rewarding to try something new.

    Liked by 1 person

    • vickihutchinsartist April 29, 2016 / 5:35 pm

      Hi Lindy – after the day of painting I’ve had, I’d settle for anything that works! I do love playing around, it doesn’t always make it in to my work, but it’s fun – looking forward to browsing your blog this weekend! Cheers, it’s Friday!


    • vickihutchinsartist April 29, 2016 / 5:50 pm

      Lindy do you still have a blog – I went to it but it said it’s author had deleted it! Let me know if you blog elsewhere so I can follow along!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s