Wrong. If I believed it was possible to actually duplicate anything (and I know scientist types who would argue with me on this - I don't care) [we need an emoticon for sticking one's tongue out], then I would concede that it could be true on occasion. But while the river might look the same, the water in it never can be - the subject matter of our art might be the same, but the brushstrokes (stitches, carvings, whatever your technique) never can be. And because the individual motions that make up the artworks aren't identical, neither can the artworks be identical.
So what? Well, I recently read several blog posts that talk about the concept of revisiting things because each new experience is an opportunity to learn something you may have passed over the first time. Steve Doherty's blog on the American Artist website has this to say:
"Paint the same subject again. One of the best exercises presented in a Workshop magazine article was painting the same subject a second time. The instructor said that once the participants had resolved the procedural aspects of painting a figure or landscape—the drawing, compositional arrangement, color mixtures, etc.—they didn’t have to think as much about those issues and could immerse themselves in the act of painting. It was fascinating to compare the two efforts, and all the artists in the workshop knew their second painting better expressed their feelings for the subject."
It makes perfect sense. Not only will you have learned the "hows", but you will better understand the "whys" of the subject matter. And reinforcement of a technique can only be a good thing.
Alyson Stanfield made another point about repetition that is worth a mention. When we hear something (or read it, or see it in a video) we are often inclined to think "oh, I already know about that (or have seen it)" and turn our attention away. In Listen, read, act, repeat she reminds us that even if it's the identical article we read last week, or the exact same video we viewed yesterday, there is likely something in there that we missed. If it's not the exact same one, but simply on the same topic, it's probable that there is information in it that wasn't in our first experience with it.
So here's what made me start thinking about all this to begin with:
I'm an avid fan of all things Pre-Raphaelite, and Rosetti's works are some of the most evocative. And something I had never noticed (?!?!?), even though I have viewed these images countless times, is the repetition of pieces of jewelry in the paintings. It was first brought to my attention by Grace at The Beautiful Necessity, and again recently by the Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood. And lest you think that the hair clip is an anomaly, take a look at this post also.
Was the repetition an intentional device? Was it just because that was what he had to hand? Was it because using the same models and same jewelry over and over help him learn more than he could have otherwise? Who knows? But I definitely think it's time for me to revisit some things that I thought I had left behind.
By the way - first person to leave a comment here correctly identifying the Christmas song that I stole the title of this post from wins a piece of original art. (Greg, you are disqualified, so don't spoil it for anyone else :)
>Technorati Favorites" src="http://static.technorati.com/pix/fave/tech-fav-1.png">