We are all guilty of trying to paint like another artist. How can anyone not avoid it? The Internet is loaded with fantastic images of well-seasoned artists that are hitting their mark. Eventually we become so impressed that we decide to reproduce another artist's style, or art.
But here's what you need to understand about learning from other artists.
An artist's work is a culmination of their;
- life experiences
- and techniques
Some of these are tangible assets while others are not. I've also read that an artist's work is like handwriting. A mannerism that is very unique and personal.
So, if your ultimate quest is to copy artwork you are fighting a losing battle.
That's because a painting represents a moment. And that moment consists of everything I mentioned about an artist's work. You can't possibly capture that same feeling the artist had when it was painted!
Think about it like this. Have you ever tried to replicate one of your paintings? I have and it's no fun! It's truly a hopeless endeavor so I never go there these days.
There are many factors that make copying art impossible. Like trying to replicate feelings, energy, confidence, mood and so on. All of those are untouchable assets and certainly help make up the ingredients of a painting. That's a fact! It's not just techniques.
Here's a better approach.
You first need to decide what it is you admire? Is it their subjects, palette, compositions, and/or style? And know that some of these qualities are attainable while others are best left alone.
Research the artist and learn more about their background. This is a great way to find out how they got involved in art, where they studied and possibly who their mentors were/are? It's also a way to find out more about their life and journey as an artist.
Do they have workshops, or instructional videos? This is the best way to learn! Watch them paint and explain their process. If you are lucky the artist is willing to share their techniques with the world and then you can learn ideas on how they approach their subjects and apply their medium(s).
Reach out and ask questions! If they are on Social media you can easily contact them to se if they're willing to answer questions about their work. Perhaps they would be willing to mentor your art for a fee.
Think about how their style will blend with yours. Envision meshing your art with theirs. How would that look? In what ways will that improve your art? Write those thoughts down and post it where you can see it!
Learn the tangibles. Remember what I said earlier? About certain assets are accessible while others aren't? Make another list of where you feel your art is weak! And decide how the artist can help you achieve solutions for those areas. If you cannot see how the artist will help you then perhaps it's not the best time to change your course.
Borrow but don't steal! Look for certain aspects of their art and techniques and fuse it with your own work. This can seem daunting to pull-off in the beginning but it's a much better plan than copying an artist's work.
If you do copy just know that you are only doing it for a short time so that you can learn more about their techniques. As I've mentioned earlier it's impossible to copy someone's work but you can do your best to recreate one of their paintings. Just know that it will never be exactly the same! And more importantly you need to do it for one reason only and that's to better understand their approach. Copying the art shouldn't be the ultimate goal. You should only be doing it to learn new ideas so that you can merge them with your own work.
Be prepared for the long haul. To really learn from another artist you have to be willing to invest a large amount of time and resources. In other words don't kid yourself into thinking you can get results in a few hours. That's a complete insult to the artist who has dedicated years of painting to create their style. Only amateurs and newbies are this naive. To get results you need months of training if not years. It's only then that you will start to see their influence in your work. Old habits are hard to break and new painting techniques take quite a while to develop.
Let's be honest here. Most of you aren't willing to invest the amount of time and energy it takes to learn on this level. You only want a quick success! If it doesn't happen now I'm out!
And no way would you be willing to take six to eight months of your precious art time to study someone's art. That just doesn't happen these days. We are programmed for instant satisfaction.
That being said I would say simply do your own thing unless you fully understand the amount of effort you need to invest to actually learn! It's less confusing this way and chances are you will have more success and less frustration. Maybe your art will be stagnant but that's a better plan than wasting time and money on a fruitless endeavor.
But if you don't mind putting energy and resources into the mission it's 100% plausible to acquire skills from another artist. However the ultimate objective should be to infuse new ideas and techniques with your own style. In the end you will be satisfied with your art and not feel as though it doesn't belong to you.
"It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation." -- Herman Melville
Before you go
I hope you enjoyed to read. Be sure to check out my teaching website by using the link below. There you will find a wealth of knowledge designed to help artists like you that want to stay on track and paint extraordinary art.
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