Art and the philosophy of life

Archive for the ‘Tradition’ Category

A very short story about…tradition

“What are you doing?” she asked, looking over his shoulder.

He turned and said, “What does it look like I’m doing?”

“It looks as if you’re copying that picture of Van Gogh’s.”

“That’s exactly what I’m doing,” he said, turning back to his easel.


“What do you mean why?” he asked, looking at her again.

“Why are you copying someone else’s work?  Why don’t you paint something of your own?”


“The world already has a picture of his flowers, why would you paint another one?”

“That’s how you learn,” he said, sullenly.

“Learn what?  How to paint like someone else?”

“You don’t get it.”

“Maybe not, but the world doesn’t have any of your work, so why not do that instead?”

“This museum is full of people copying…” he started to say.

“Not full, but copycats are just that, aren’t they?”

“This is the way it’s always been done.  Even Leonardo worked on someone else’s paintings…”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“It’s tradition.”

“Tradition is just following someone else’s rules.  Either you have original work, or you don’t.  If you do, there’s no reason to copy anyone else’s, for any reason.  Not for brushstrokes, or color.  Do your thing, unless you’re going to be a forger, then by all means, don’t let me interrupt you.”

“What do you know about art anyway,” he huffed, dipping his brush in a tiny glob of paint.

“Not much.  Not really.  But see that big painting over there?” she asked.

“Yes, of course I see it.”

“Well, that one’s mine,” she said, as she walked away.


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