"There is nothing new under the sun." Ecclesiastes 1:9
I'm learning some new things about being a copycat. That to be a great artist, you actually need to start stealing stuff.
This book I'm reading...
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon,
explains it much better.
But I'll at least show you what I mean by my own attempts.
I will often scroll aimlessly through Pinterest or Etsy, searching certain types of art that I love to create myself, but needing inspiration, I'll look to other artists, and actually try to duplicate theirs,
just for fun.
Like this picture below, done by someone else:
Nice! I thought. I love drawing and painting faces, in sort of a folk art style,
adding color, details, random collage elements and some nice words or a quote to give it some meaning.
("The only art I'll ever study is stuff
that I can steal from." --David Bowie)
So I began to copy it. Same color scheme, same clothes, same chalky white outlines and funky flowers pieced together from patterned scrapbook papers.
oh but wait--what's going on with her hair? what happened to the prim little bun on her head?
oops. i guess it just didn't work for me. And the more i looked at my "stolen" piece of art, i realized it just didn't sit well with me, so i ripped out some phone book pages and starting pasting them over the girl's frumpy outfit.
Added a big swath of white gesso...
(i LOVE gesso, it covers a multitude of sins...)
more scraps, more gesso.
Penciled in new outlines, new body shapes.
yeah, it's looking better already. more casual. more like me, actually..
not that i was going for that look but hey i'll take it.
pretty much my finished product here.
added a quote that I liked, not the one i copied from.
and there you go. an attempt to copy turns into my own original.
Sort of like my life. Tried living my imaginary identity, only to find my heart feeling sadder and emptier, colder and number. Until something...some...thing...flashed by the eyes...those mirrors of the soul...and lit a spark. that fanned to a small flame...and bigger...and bigger...until it was a fire out of control and the real me came tumbling out, thrashing, awkward, and SPLAT!!! so embarrassing. and i've been picking up the pieces, strengthening this tender plant with supports, wooden beams, counseling, fighting off the weeds that try to choke it back into its former plastic identity theft. nope. the original, unable to be copied, one snowflake in a million has come out.
that's what art is all about. finding your true voice. sometimes it takes a bit of hard practice, of trying to imitate other's stuff...till the work becomes your own.
i'll end with just a few more quotes from the book i mentioned above, Steal Like an Artist:
"Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows.
Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic." --Jim Jarmusch
"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts."--William Shakespeare
(fake it til you make it!!)
"Start copying what you love. Copy copy copy copy. At the end of the copy you will find your self."--Yohji Yamamoto
"The human hand is incapable of making a perfect copy."--Austin Kleon
"We want you to take from us. We want you, at first, to steal from us, because you can't steal. You will take what we give you and you will put it in your own voice and that's how you will find your voice. And that's how you begin. And then one day someone will steal from you."
--Francis Ford Coppola
"You can't connect the dots looking forward, you only connect them looking backwards."
There is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.”
― Martha Graham
― Martha Graham
ok i know i'm awkwardly fusing the idea of original art with the idea of being an original YOU, but still...
** just remember: art may be a recreation of something that's been said before, but you, YOU..are not an imitation of anyone else. You are uniquely created by God, and that makes YOU extremely special. And very much loved. :-)