Imitation is the biggest compliment, right? I mean, that’s what my third grade teacher told me when little Johnny wouldn’t stop copying my every move. It’s no secret that I fall in love with the work of other artists, try to learn new skills, and imitate when I am inspired. I mean, I learned how to draw whimsical faces with Jane Davenport, I dove into alcohol inks with Karen Walker, and I even attempted some mixed media people with no arms and lots of fancy scrapbook paper after visiting Kelly Rae Robert’s site.
Pablo Picasso said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” He’s right too. I copy all kinds of things because it’s part of the big experiment and sometimes speeds of the learning curve. I mean, copying is a tool and often in art schools students are asked to recreate a painting. This helps you learn techniques, match colors, and figure out what makes an excellent composition. Of course, when you copy someone you can’t claim it as your own work. It’s about learning and practice.
Stealing from another artist is another story. I don’t think Picasso was saying paint something exactly like the other person did and sign your name on it. I think he meant steal the color combinations, the technique, the materials, or the composition and incorporate it into your own work. Digest all of the information and spit it back out in your own style, using your own subjects and creative ideas.
Over the past couple of weeks I have been obsessed with Lisa Graham Art. She paints these people into scenes that tell a story and I just love them.
Her painting “Grandmother’s Garden” has been calling to me. I’ve been back to look at it at least a dozen times now. I know, I am probably a little crazy, but some art just speaks to you and gets under your skin. You can’t get enough of it. Lisa Graham’s work has all of the elements I have been working on for the past year: Mixed media, people, story telling, rich, layered backgrounds. Anyway, I really loved this particular piece because it was based on an old photograph and I just happen to have a bunch of old photographs because I had been collecting them for a class I took with Heather Murray.
I dove in and incorporated a person based on an old photograph, some mixed media techniques (the background has at least three layers), and words. I am still working on the story telling part. I think that might come more easily when I get better at putting people into spaces. I am still working on just getting my people to look right. I want them to have some character and proportional features. It sounds much easier than it is! My technical skills still need some work. I also don’t want my people to look like the people all of these other artists have created. Each one of the artist’s I have referenced in this post have very distinct people. I mean, you know who painted them! Their style shines through. I am still working on my style. At least I think I am. I have a much more difficult time recognizing what makes a painting scream “this was painted by Lillian Connelly” but I can easily recognize the style signature of the artists I admire. Here is what I came up with:
On to the good news! A few of my watercolor and alcohol ink paintings have been turned into needle point kits and are officially available on the Chelsea Needlepoint website. I am so excited!
But wait…there is even more good news! Jim and I just found out we are pregnant! I really thought Tiny-Small was going to be an only child, but I guess she isn’t. Over the past few weeks Tiny-Small has been asking, “When am I going to meet my sisters?” I’ve been telling her she doesn’t have any sisters, but now I am wondering if she knew something before we did! Of course, the fact that she has been saying “sisters” instead of “sister” has me a little worried, but I’ll keep you posted! Plus, she could still end up with a brother, won’t she be surprised if that happens?
Have an excellent Wednesday!
P.S. Remember imitation is an excellent way to practice, but you should always give credit where credit is due and never try to pass it off as your own work. That could get you into a boatload of trouble.
P.P.S We are going to have Tiny-Small Squared. I’m already hoping they invent some kind of cloning machine so I can clone myself. Hurry up technology!