I first saw a reproduction of Andrew Wyeth’s “Christina’s World” hanging in my 9th grade English classroom. At the time I thought nothing of the 1948 painting, but when I took another class in the same room four years later my eyes lingered on the painting long enough to think about Wyeth’s motivation behind the painting. I pondered this so many times that the image became permanently etched in my mind.
I’m grateful for that because on the day of Becca and Eric’s wedding the image resurrected itself in my mind. I think you can guess why.
I tentatively approached them with my idea. It was a stretch, I knew, but after I showed Becca and Eric the picture on my phone, their minds turned to the concept of Iconic America. They were “in.”
The woman in the painting was a neighbor of Wyeth who was crippled by polio. The story goes that she crawled her way to her goal each day with persistence and independence.
Now, Becca does not suffer from polio, but both husband and wife are persistent and dedicated people, which are qualities I presume the subject of the painting also possessed. Add this on top of the stunningly similar landscapes and the openness of this artful couple, and it was the perfect masterpiece to copy.
That’s right. I said it. I copied a masterpiece.
All Artists Mimic Their Heroes
“Good artists copy, great artists steal.” – Pablo Picasso
“I steal from every movie ever made.” – Quentin Tarantino
“Creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” – Albert Einstein
Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like an Artist, says, “You don’t want to steal the style, you want to steal the thinking behind the style. You don’t want to look like your heroes. You want to see like your heroes.”
I couldn’t agree more.
How to Mimic the Masters
When Rembrandt assists you on a photo shoot, you take what you can steal but with a footnote. You should also follow these tips:
- Figure Out What Is Worth Stealing. This comes from your creative gut. Choosing the one to copy at the right time is the hard part.
- Set the Stage. If you are going to perform, build a platform that will support your efforts financially. While art is priceless, you still have bills. If you can involve your creative project into a paying gig, I bet your clients will appreciate that extra dose of enthusiasm.
- Commit Your Idea. If others can help put you closer to your goal, share your idea and enlist their support. Be prepared to make it happen if you do. No matter what.
- Share the Results. Your completed work will inspire future clients based on your creative guts. Don’t be shy about highlighting your inspired images.
What do you think about the painting and picture comparison?
RJ Kern is a Minneapolis Wedding Photographer who loves to create as much as share. He loves to share his enthusiasm in his free photographer resources blog posts. He’s been enjoying the process of bringing back medium format into the wedding market, but this time using pixels, tech humor, perhaps duct tape, creativity, all garnished with light.