It’s been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In the art world, imitation is also a very important part of the learning process. One of the first “tricks” I discovered to help improve my drawing skills was that of copying what other artists had done. I faithfully copied Kate Berry’s sketches in Drawing Lessons, and did my best to copy the images from other art books and tutorials.
These were lessons, of course. The illustrations were meant to be copied over and over again. It was a teaching method that enabled me to develop my drawing ability.
It’s been much the same as I’ve moved on to painting. With both watercolor and acrylics, I’ve copied illustrations from books, videos, and online courses. Again, these are lessons. The artists, authors, and teachers are putting their works on display and encouraging students to copy.
We do learn a lot that way, and the practice of copying works of well-known artists has been suggested to me many times. I could never see myself trying to replicate a famous work of art, though, no matter how helpful the process might be. I shudder to think what my version of La Gioconda or Girl at the Open Half Door might look like.
I’ve come to a point with my art studies where I’m looking more at artistic styles. I haven’t discovered a style of my own yet, but I’m beginning to feel my way along the path. I look at paintings and styles I like, and I try different approaches. What that involves, of course, is once again copying from others, or perhaps now, it’s more a matter of emulating what I see in the work of another artist.
Recently, while visiting Brushes with Watercolor, I learned about the artist Aubrey Phillips. I was immediately drawn to the colors — especially his skies — and a quick search of Amazon yielded a treasure: Watercolor Painting with Aubrey Phillips. I picked up a used copy of the book for a more-than-reasonable price.
I’m not making any attempts to copy any of the artist’s paintings, but rather to allow his art to influence me. I read his thoughts about paintings, and I carry those ideas over to my own watercolor. I look at his images, then draw upon them for inspiration as I create my own.
Here, with grateful appreciation to Aubrey Phillips, is my watercolor, “Pirate Cove”, inspired by the beautiful seascapes Phillips has painted…and inspired, too, by my yearly re-reading of “Treasure Island.”
Next to his, mine looks a bit sad, yet I think I’ve made a good start at capturing some of the colors and a bit of the mood I see in the art of Aubrey Phillips. To me, those are the important things, the things I like best in this artist’s work.
Studying his works has been rewarding. It’s one more step toward finding my own style and discovering who I am as an artist.
What artists have influenced you?