Don’t you just hate it when you can’t think of a good idea for a painting or a drawing?
I’m sure you’ve been there too. You’re feeling enthusiastic and ready to create something, but the ideas just aren’t there.
So, you try your luck and start randomly sketching in the hope of producing something amazing, but it doesn’t turn out well and you end up with something like this:
Let’s face it, this has happened to all of us at some time or another.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a large collection of pre-made ideas for artists to use? Wouldn’t it be great if this collection was totally free too? Wouldn’t it be great if you could use anything from this collection in any way you wanted to without worrying about getting sued or paying extortionate royalties to anyone?
If this is starting to sound suspiciously like the beginning of an advert, you’d be right.
I’m advertising the public domain – the best free resource in the world for artists who find themselves temporarily out of ideas.
The public domain it isn’t a website or a series of books – it’s something much greater.
The public domain includes every piece of art that no longer has a copyright and it’s all yours to use however you want.
The rules vary from country to country, but a work of art usually becomes part of the public domain a certain number of years (usually seventy, but it can go up to a hundred in some places ) after the artist who created it has died.
If you’re living in America, then I think that the public domain also includes pretty much every work of art produced before 1923 too (and a few other things too).
There are plenty of ways that you can use public domain stuff, but the most simple one is to copy it. No, not by right-clicking on the picture and selecting “copy”. I’m talking about copying it the really old-fashioned way. Like this copy of part of Renoir’s “Bal Du Moulin De La Galette” I made a while ago when I was feeling uninspired:
If you’ve never copied a picture by hand this before, then it can take a bit of practice. But, not only is copying by hand is a useful skill to learn – it’s also an amazingly good way of learning how to draw or paint too.
Not only that, there’s a good chance that your own art style will start to seep into whatever you are copying too – so, not only will you end up with a copy of an old painting, but you’ll end up with a copy of an old painting in your own art style.
Think of it like a “cover version” of the original painting – since a good cover version of a song usually sounds at least slightly different to the original song.
But, you can do more than that – you can also have a lot of fun with old public domain pictures too. Hell, you can even add a zombie apocalypse to Gustave Caillebotte’s “Rue De Paris, Temps De Pluie“, if you want to:
Yes, almost everything in the public domain is (by it’s very definition) quite old. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t use it in all sorts of creative ways.
So, if you’re short of ideas for your next drawing or painting, then it might be worth turning to the public domain for inspiration.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂