|Follow The Leader|
Acrylic on wc paper image size 11" x 14"
The following observations are part of my thought process (and just my own opinion, applying only to me!) for making the above piece:
One of the main problems I am finding with being inspired by someone else's work (or of even copying it to learn) is that you have no idea what the person was thinking when they made that piece of art. Reproducing something from a purely visual standpoint isn't terribly difficult. But then what? Where is your own voice in this process? In the absence of any real knowledge of what another person was thinking it's hard to know what to do next. You get stuck just copying.
Why mention this at all? It seems self evident and sort of like a dead end question. The potential to learn from asking is pretty strong though and here is my reasoning. Because you don't know what that artist was thinking (what skills or theories or plans they were using) you are free to interpret the construction of that work in whatever way you want. In other words, you can look at that person's work and think in your own terms, based on your own efforts and learning, what that artist may have been doing. You then could possibly have a new idea for your own work.
Take the above piece for example. For the past 5 months now I have been inspired by the work of Etel Adnan. Her work speaks to me in a serious way. When I first viewed her paintings I thought to myself that here was a person painting exactly in the way that I wanted to paint-simple and uncomplicated but kind of complex also. With the exception of my palette knife pieces, my own work felt stiff and stilted and repetitive to me. How could I go on? I saw exactly what to do when I viewed this painter's work. Looser shapes, looser interpretations of the landscape and all of its attendant paraphernalia, plus color, color, color! I felt like I had been given permission to change. I started studying her color combinations but I had no idea what she was doing. None of the limited interviews that she has given over the years gave me any kind of a clue to her thought process. I couldn't figure out what all of her shapes referenced either. So I made it up and filled in the gaps! And this is what I alluded to above. In the absence of a solid explanation, I was free to take what I knew from my own studying and to guess and to come up with my own ideas. Kind of like making sourdough bread. You need a starter mixture right?
And I am still learning from her work and making things up. The whole process has helped me to look at my environment differently, to sketch differently and to think about color and design much more than I ever did before. It's been an invaluable experience so far. (If the woman had an email address I would send her a thank you note!)
A person can come at art making from many, many angles. All you have to do is find the right angle:)