My Thoughts on Creative Borrowing

posted in: Art, Art Story, Creative Process | 0

The tag line for my blog is “Yes, I have something to say”! So yes, these are my thoughts on creative borrowing. How to let the creative process guide you as you are influenced by other people’s art.

Influenced by an Art Talk

In July of 2019 I went to listen to Kim Collins, an artist from Fort Worth, give a talk about her art. I wrote about it in a blog post. In the last part of her art talk, as a demonstration, she shared her process. Kim paints in acrylics and I paint in watercolors. I decided to use the information she shared to create, in watercolors, a painting, using the ideas about negative space she shared while she painted.

My Thoughts on Creative Borrowing
Kim’s Art Talk
My Thoughts on Creative Borrowing
Bad Art

After a few attempts, I concluded that Kim made her process look easy. My first attempts were really bad. But I finally created a watercolor that worked. And I shared it below, because I promised I would when I wrote the blog about Kim’s art.

Negative Space

I studied under Zoe Mac, an abstract expressionist watercolor artist. She was the first instructor to teach me how to use negative space. Zoe often used the technique in her work. I still use negative space in my work, but I use it sparingly. Kim uses negative space as a primary element in her art. If I were to decide to paint in acrylics and use negative space in florals, as a primary element, I would be copying Kim’s work. It would never be my original art.

I wrote recently about creating original art in another blog and I wanted to use the exercise I did based on Kim’s demonstration to go a little deeper into how to transition from being influenced by other people’s art into finding your own artistic style.

Kim’s exercise was both challenging and interesting. First, I had to adapt it to watercolors. Acrylics are opaque and can cover over a section of a painting already there. With watercolor on the other hand, you must think ahead and preserve the lighter color by never painting in the area or only lightly painting in it. The fact that I am using watercolors changes how I am executing the assignment. I am already removed from Kim’s unique method because of the medium I am using.

Dream Flowers

What Kim’s exercise has encouraged me to do is to revisit something I painted when I studied art with Zoe. I call them Dream Flower. Maybe I will create a few Dream Flower pieces to see how I feel about them and the process I use to paint them. They may turn out wonderful or they may become a confusing mess that I will take and cut up into watercolor texture collages. Although, that might not be a bad thing. I am now another step away from Kim’s style. I am incorporating what I have learned in the past.

My Thoughts on Creative Borrowing
Dream Flower 2016
My Thoughts on Creative Borrowing
Dream Flowers 2018

Should I decide to pursue my Dream Flower paintings again, I will create a series of them after I have practiced and experimented by adding other media like, colored pencils and pens. I want to see what works well and looks good. Introducing other media moves me further away from Kim’s work.

Invention from

Kim painted while observing live flowers in a vase. I pull from my memory and then use invention. Invention is the primary element of my Dream Flower art. Again, it moves me further away from the original exercise.

The Results

By the time I am ready to exhibit my Dream Flower art or put it on my website for sale, I will be very far away from the initial exercise I borrowed from Kim that led me to explore a more abstract version of floral art. I will be even further from the classes I took with Zoe. Because if you follow the creative process you will always find your way to what is unique to you.

My Thoughts on Creative Borrowing
Successful Attempt

As I go through this process of rediscovering my Dream Flower art, I will blog about it again and show you where it has taken me.

Another Example

Before I begin to work on Dream Flowers, I plan to paint landscapes. This is a series I have already begun. When you begin to paint any painting, after you chose a subject like landscapes, you must decide how big or small the painting will be. There is a decision process I go through although I must admit, often the decisions is made by what size of paper I have on hand. Without really thinking it through, I begin to paint.

In the landscape series I have planned, I took a little more time and have begun to paint a size of paper I don’t normally use. One of my pieces is 10 x 18 inches. I chose this size because it fit the subject best. But as I add more work to the series, I plan to spend some time looking at other people’s work.

I am not looking for ideas, or technique, but to think about the size of paper I should use. What size should a landscape be? How big should I go? I usually default to a landscape orientation because, well, it is a landscape. But I am asking, what happens if a landscape has a portrait orientation? A square? When I do this exercise, I plan to borrow ideas from other people’s art as I contemplate this element of my art. Am I being influenced? Yes. Copying? No. I am figuring out how I will ultimately present my art. I am being purposeful in my decisions.

Elements of Art

There are aspects of art called elements. You can be influence in one of these areas and incorporate it into your art. And as long as you aren’t incorporating all the same elements from the work you are observing, you are heading towards finding your way in the creative process.


The Creative Process

In the creative process you can stop and think about each one of the elements of art. Explore them in your work, incorporate them if they fit what you have in mind. Just spend the time and have the integrity to know what you have in mind. Always bring self-expression into your work. Don’t be so wrapped up in other people’s work that you disappear. How can your work ever be truly yours if you don’t invite yourself into the creative process?

First, you must commit to working through the creative process. It is as simple as making a series of decisions. Each decision propels you through the creative process and in the end, you will have a work of art that you have created, not copied. It will reflect what you have explored and refined.

Should you get to the end and like I did with Kim’s exercise and produce bad art, then do what I did, repeat and refine the process. Ask yourself, what did I learn? Repeat the process again, if you need to, until you create a painting you feel like sharing with others. If you repeat the process, you will have a story to tell. It will be the story of how the work of art came into being, why you created it, what you struggled with. It will be a genuine story about an authentic work of art.

Biz News

My business news this week is of a very personal nature. Since April 2020 I have been involved in a business mentoring group that I dearly loved, that I learned so much from as a newbie. As of February 1 that group has shut down. And I have to admit that it left me feeling very disappointed. I was disappointed because I receive so much value from it. I am totally convinced that in business, mentoring is the way to go. Accountability is essential. And although you can learn from a teacher, hearing from your peers who are walking the same road that you are, is so valuable. The group I was in had all of that.

I took a deep breath, worked through my feelings, talked about it with someone who’s very close to me. Then I decided to take no action except to do the classes that I had acquired last year. I had already decided they were on subjects that I needed to study.

There are a lot of good podcast that I listen to. And in the process of listening, I found a teacher who is an artist, who has a group very similar to the one that I was in. I will be able to join the group in April. I am looking forward to that very much. Once I’m officially in, I’ll share more about this teacher and what the group is like that I’ve joined.

In the meantime, I’m studying. I just did an inventory of my art to help me organize it and help me with the process of putting it up online. My goal is that by late spring, to have the backlog of the art that’s in my studio, up online, and for sale.

The List

If you are not already on The List , this is an invitation to join me on my art journey.  As a way to thank you for signing up, you will  receive the download for my Dream Flower note card. The cards were created from the the art of the successful completion of the exercise I borrowed from Kim’s Art Talk. Each week there is a bonus, The Blog, and my Biz News updates.

The bonuses include downloads of a monthly calendar, small prints and note card samples. When I have a sale  List Members receive an greater discount than I am offering to the public. You will be the first to know when new art and gifts are available.

Fill in the form at top right side of the page to sign-up.

In The Blog I cover art, design, art instruction and inspiration.  My goal is to inspire people to be creative and to enjoy the arts, to see how faith can inform art. These are the  themes that define my life. If this sounds like you,  I would love for you to be a part of this venture. Sign up!

Thank you for your interest in my art. As always, Be Inspired.

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