In the early 90's I attended a national portrait conference. It was the first art event, other than the Kentuck Festival, that I had ever attended. There was this bold, idealistic thought in my romantic brain that becoming a portrait painter was my destiny. After watching the likes of Daniel Greene, Everett Raymond Kinstler, and others wow the crowd with their mastery I became convinced that "destiny" was much too strong of a word.
At the back of the room, there was a vendor selling reproductions of works by Nicolai Fechin. Artists were gathered around the table blushing over how wonderful his paintings were. So I took a look. Immediately it became clear that these onlookers lacked aesthetic taste, loved flat jumbled shapes and were on the payroll of whoever brought the Fechin reproductions. How could anyone consider this guy to be a great painter? I was in my twenties. A decade later I became convinced, that at that moment, I was a naive idiot.
My education came while I was wandering through a gallery In Sante Fe New Mexico. I came to a small hidden corner near the offices where there was a small 8x10 painting of a Native American girl. It was a Fechin. A visual poem. A masterful array of paint, color, opacity, transparency, scratches, finger painting, brushwork, and edges. An unforgettable experience without parallel.
With the exception of sculpture, graphics and possibly pen and ink, art does not reproduce well. Paintings don't reproduce at all. There is some speculation that with 3D printing we are on the edge of being able to exactly reproduce most works of art. Not a Fechin. The passion and poetry of that Russian soul are in the original marks themselves.
Enjoy the art that lingers in your memory, collect the art that impacts your soul. If your an artist, strive for the visual poem.