‘Tracing – Some people feel tracing an image, before colouring it in, is cheating, but is it? Some of our greatest artists have allegedly traced some of their master pieces before adding the paint, artists like Caravaggio, Vermeer, Rembrandt and Di Vinci are all said to have ‘traced’ images by using a ‘camera obscura’.

The Camera Obscura is an ancient optical device. In its most basic form it is, quite simply, a dark room with a small hole in one wall. On the wall opposite the hole, an image is formed of whatever is outside. This image is upside-down (inverted) and back to front (laterally transposed). It’s my view that if tracing (by whatever means) is good enough for Rembrandt et al, then it’s good enough for me.

I find that if I trace a thing a few times, like the butterflies I paint, after a while the shape and structure becomes imprinted on my brain and I no longer need to trace that particular subject. An issue of copyright can rear its head if you trace and paint an image that someone else has already painted and you want to sell it, but if you trace a picture of an original image that you have produced or even used a camera obscura device to trace an ‘original’ image then all should be well (However, if all is not well you won’t find me offering to pay your fine or take your place in jail).