Authentic & Original

Last week in my art class we had a lecture/discussion class. I love these classes because it allows time to for discussion with my knowledgable (and oh-so-French) art professor. (She revealed that one of her works is going to be featured at the MFAH soon...how cool is that?) My only dislike of these times is the metal stools we sit on for three hours...Ouch! 

During her critique of my piece, she asked me, "What do you think the difference is between Authentic and Original...or is there a difference?" Up until that moment, I never considered those two things to be opposites. What IS the difference between Authentic & Original?! Thankfully, my classmate answered and said exactly what I was thinking, "Uhh! No idea!" My Prof Suzanne then gave this example....

In Texas we have no shortage of Bluebonnet paintings this time of year. Maybe it's the different hues of blues and greens that make budding artists come out of their long winter's nap...who knows... All this to say, any work that is with my distinct voice is an authentic work. Never thought I'd say it, but a stinking bluebonnet drawing can be an authentic piece of work if it conveys the emotion and expression of the artist. 

To take it a step further, something is original if the art piece is a completely new concept, idea, or expression of something. You could say,  an original piece is something that hasn't been done before or done before in this way. I don't know how to describe this in words, but you know it when you see it. The master's are an easy reference point. How many times had people painted a water lily before Monet? Yet, when he interpreted the pond and lilies it became magical. Why? Because he took something and not only made it his own, he interpreted it in a new way. See an example below. 

Don't worry - the guy in the picture is removing dust. Side note: I didn't realize how huge this painting was. Good grief. 

Photo Credit: http://www.cleveland.com/arts/index.ssf/2011/01/monets_waterlilies_painting_on.html 

Isn't this breathtaking? Can you see how it's both authentic (completely Monet) and original ( a new take on a pond with dying foliage)? 

At the end of the day, I can't help but believe that the goal of our work as artists is to create something that is both authentic and original at least once in our lives. Original could be capturing a bluebonnet in a completely different way than anyone has done before or the Eiffel tower...you name it. I believe it's possible. I love this idea. Here's to creating work that is both authentic & original.