OK, now you have learnt your craft and you want to paint paintings that you can sell either the original, or the copyright. This may help you buy your round of drinks at the local tavern and perhaps, at last, put a roof over the heads of your nearest and dearest. You might even have dreams of becoming a responsible member of the community, regain the respect of those outlaws and in-laws who have long since given up on you. How do you do this? Below are some of the methods I have employed that won't leave you feeling like an absolute 'quack'.
1. Filling the gaps of history

Don't let anyone tell you this is not a legitimate endeavor for a painter. Someone once spoke thus to me... 
'How could you paint Shakespeare or Fletcher Christian,' they scoffed indignantly, 'did you ever meet them or see them? You can't just go around doing that! Anyway, they died hundreds of years ago.'

I replied, 'I don't expect Leonardo met the Virgin Mary, nor to my knowledge did Carraviggo meet John the Baptist, or was Michaelangelo ushered into the presence of God for painting purposes...! I also expect neither Rembrant nor Rubens was present when Jesus was lowered from the cross'. And all these things happened over one thousand four hundred years before they were painted.'

In fact it is the artists duty and obligation to do exactly these type of paintings and make them believable. Thus will we enrich history for those coming after us.

First of all let's look at portraits of those folks who were not captured by photography or painters of their time. Perhaps most became notorious well after the event. Anyway here are two examples that have been used on book covers, magazines and in television documentaries from which I gained financially by my agent selling a limited copyright. The originals, of course, I usually retain and will will to my children. 

William Shakespeare
who was never painted
in his lifetime

Fletcher Christian

Alexander and the Gordian Knot


Commodore Perry transferrs his flag to the Niagara 1812

These paintings have been copyrighted and used more than once in publications and documentaries and book covers. It shows that any artist still has great scope should he or she wish to properly research and produce a painting that is definitive in its portrayal of some event of person who presently lacks any adequate representation. What other 'gaps' might the 'journeyman' painter tackle? Here is a list off the top of my head:

Milton of paradise lost fame
The philosopher 'Gothe"
A real flesh portrait of Julius Caesar
Sir Francis Drake
John Paul Jones
Christopher Columbus
Sir Francis Drake
Stanley meeting Livingstone

OK, so you can now see the possibilities should you want to research the subject matter, and have the technical skills to produce a painting that has both feeling, drama and definition. In my atelier my primary duty is usually to give students the skill so they can paint whatever style or method that might suit the period - or otherwise, should they determine something else is required. That is up to them and their reasoning. In this sort of work it is important for future copyright use that the artist refrain too much from 'stamping their personal style' on the work; instead making the painting identify with the time and place or the person and particular event. This sometimes needs much research - but the rewards are great should your portrait or work become the definitive one, as did my Fletcher Christian. You see it was well researched had the benefit of not looking like Mel Gibson, Marlon Brando or Erol Flynn!

Beware that, like the novelist or actor, you might become so attached to some period or person it could almost become obsessional - as I nearly did with my late 18 century era of sail and romanticism.

Finally you need to put these images where folk who need them can see them and this means originally on the web, and perhaps giving them away free (within defined parameters) to educational and other non-profit organizations that require them from time to time. 

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