What is an “Original”

I was asked my opinion by a student on the criteria for their quilt show… “What is an “original”

Can you use images created by another person and call your quilt “Original”?

Absolutely NO…. !!!!!

You all know I use images of famous artists as a base for some of my quilts but I could never classify them as “Original” The Bayeux, the Rhino, American Gothic, Frida….

Then again you all know I can do “Original”

But it’s MY choice, to create a piece of work… it’s a challenge, Can I create American Gothic in fabric….YES I can and it’s my choice… of course I’ve had challenges from those who know better than I. XXXXXX !!!!!!

This piece shown below disqualified me from being an “Art Quilter” because I used Grant Woods painting as an inspiration…. what the heck, I don’t care… it’s my opinion that counts… It’s my art, and my creation.


This piece, below, is considered an art piece because it came from my imagination, my illustrations, my creative side.


It might sound as if I’m getting on my high horse about this… I’m not really, but I think it brings up a point.

Art is in the eye of the beholder.

I wrote the article below to another list and I thought you might like an insight into some of the things that I find interesting and are honestly beyond my control.

I spend as much time as I can in Art Galleries. It’s been a 50 year


I walked past a painting the other day and I stopped in my tracks.
It was eery, it was inviting and asked me to explore more visually.
A large wooden door hung enticingly half open, a gnarled hand half way
down supported it. I’d never seen anything like it before, I didn’t
know the artist.

But, then again, I had drawn a picture almost identical.

The pattern on the door was the same, the gnarled hand in the same
position, the tiles behind the door were similar to my illustration.
Different genre’s, different artists, my illustration is part of an
illustration for a book, light, funny , whimsical…..but it was the

same. How does this happen?


I come from a family of a long line of artists.
I was born and lived in Tasmania in my childhood and a few years back
I was on an annual visit. It was autumn, the light clear and crisp. I
drove into the mountains with family and friends. It was 3.15 in the
afternoon and we approached a bridge. As a photographer always
composing the images I see I asked my husband to stop the car, I had a
sense of urgency to get out and view a scene at a certain angle, a
stone bridge, yellow gorse, blue sky and the the light hitting at a
particular angle.. I photographed for1 5 minutes and happy with the
results I got back into the car.
The next day I had been invited to the art gallery in Launceston to
view paintings and books by my Great, Great, Uncle Joshua Higgs.
They were in storage and the assistant gently pulled one painting out
after another.
The curator laid a large painting on the table. It was the scene I had
photographed the day previously. I went cold and examined it
carefully. I didn’t say anything to the museum but I was shaken as I
walked out of the gallery.
I was shooting in film and I normally develop my own… but I took it
to a photographer and urged him to develop it for me.
My photo, was identical to the painting done my my relative in the
late 1800’s. Same light, same time of year, same time of the day and
the exact position he stood to paint the painting… How do you
explain that.
120 years apart.!!

I am lucky to be part of a lot of quilt shows. I’m a photographer, I
photograph every quilt in detail… I’ve seen quilts that tell me this
person really likes the art of Van Gogh, many of her quilts followed
this theme.
A winning quilt, several years ago…. it was similar to a painting of
a famous American Artist from the 30’s….

Our creativity is a gift, It came from somewhere.

VoyagesCover Joshua Higgs.

I just accept it but is it “Original”?

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Mindy says:

    How interesting. The other thing to think about is that in 120 years’ time, it’s a miracle that the place still looks the same and the bridge is still standing, and the road is still situated the same way.

  2. Naomi in Oregon, USA says:

    Interesting discussion. I’m currently working on a piece with a sky inspired by van Gogh’s Starry Night, but the foreground is completely different. I consider the sky to be inspired by van Gogh, but not a copy of his work because I’m working in a different media. Although it is obvious to anyone familiar with Starry Night that it is the source of my inspiration, I had to use the tools of a fabric artist to create my sky. I had to know how to create the sense of van Gogh’s sky using fabric. I don’t think being inspired by someone else’s work makes my piece any less mine. I am, of course, crediting van Gogh with my inspiration.

  3. Judy B says:

    When I started quilting I wanted Australian houses, and had to draw them myself. Just twhen I got together a good collection Margaret Rolfe had a book published. I didn’t buy the book because I didn’t need it. ayear or two later I asked a friendship group to make one of my house blocks for me ….. one of them used templates from Margaret’s book which she had used for another friendship block!
    I was delighted when I bought a book and found a picture of the rhino when I got it home, but I love your original work more than the rest, but you have a knack of unearthing some incredible connections to the work you recreate.
    Judy B

  4. Pam says:

    Judy, thanks, Yes, in a way there is nothing really new…. People have even said my Alphabet looks like…..XXXX drawing….
    NO, it
    s all me, but I do think that there is a subliminal thing… how do we store things we see….

  5. Wendy in Kennewick says:

    That was exactly what I thought as I read your post… aren’t we influenced, conciously or subconsiously, by everything we see.

Leave a Reply