Why do artists repeat themselves?


Why do artists paint multiple paintings of the same image?

This question that came up recently,  I have been mulling it.

Van Gogh obsessed with painting Sunflowers. Munch’s Scream over and over….


For me repeated paintings show it is not the image that is important.

It is the idea contained within the image. It is what the artist is exploring and learning that is important.


Here are versions of the same image that I have drawn and painted many times. An elephant moving head on.


What is it that interests me?

Elephants have the most amazing ability to shape shift into the landscape. To merge into the bush. One moment you see them the next they are gone, a great big elephant camouflaged.

How do I portray the power and size yet gentleness and mystery of an elephant?

How do I portray movement coming towards me? The blending of landscape with subject transparency and colour, movement with form.

How far can I push colour and shape with abstract loose brush stroke and still portray moving elephant.

As I write that last question I know I will paint the subject again. There is further for me to go with that exploration.


So, if you see me or any other artist paint an image more than once, it is not because we have run out of ideas. it is because the image is full of ideas. You have spotted or bought a good one!


To sum up you wouldn’t ask a musician why they play the same piece over and over again. You would understand that the practice and repetition is the musicians journey to mastery. It is the same with painters.


This is the first of a new series of art blogs which will look at such ideas as why artists paint, how to let go to make art, how to get into the flow of painting.


I have a mailing list, which will deliver the posts straight to your in box, so sign up if you are interested in making art or want to find out more about what artists think.


I look forward to hearing from you.








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