Many years ago when I used to sell art on eBay, I got a message from a prospective customer asking if my painting was original, or was the one being sold from China the original one. You see, some Chinese artist had decided to steal my listing and that included the photo of the painting I had done, and the description.
What these fakers do, is to steal the photo of the original painting, upload it as if they were in possession of it and then when they get a sale they paint it as close as they can to the photograph.
The problem is in the word 'original'.
Just because the work done in China was actually painted, it was not an original. We tend to think that anything done with a brush has to be original, when clearly this is not the case. The Chinese painting was a stroke-by-stroke copy. Copies are not originals, whether they are painted with a brush or if they are a print. In fact eBay is full of 'original copies' of the masters and just a few years ago a major commercial gallery in Australia were selling 'original', painted copies of Van Gogh's work. Yes, they were painted, but they certainly weren't original!
There are other less obvious forms of copying that are gaining traction in the art world.
Several years ago a series of seascape paintings appeared at Rotary art shows in Adelaide that were too good to be true. They were very photographic and my gut feeling was that they were painted over a photograph that had been printed on a canvas. There were two giveaway features that made me think they were fakes. Firstly, the horizon was badly slanted on one piece - it meant that the photo was that way and the 'artist' didn't know how to get around it. Secondly, the detailed painting continued around the sides of the canvas - a dead giveaway for that kind of copying work.
Not long after these paintings started appearing, I came across the artist painting plein air at Victor Harbor. and it was obvious they had no idea how to paint.
About, 10 years ago, the most realistic drawings you could imagine started appearing on a well-known artists site. The world-famous moderator was most enthusiastic about them and claimed they were the products of a genius. However, all the works of this 'artist' were shown to be nothing more than photos - pixel by pixel copies off photos available on the web! Almost everyone was sucked in by this 'genius'.
More or less, most of us are having our artistic voices stifled by the ever louder voice of the photograph. It's time to break free and find our own painting voice!
Oh - and as for the Chinese copier, eBay shut them down.
Caption - Ready to Race - oil on board - 30x30cm (sold)