In the art classes I run, I use photographs and artwork for students as inspiration. It is easier as a student to have a reference shot to learn techniques and to develop skills.
So what if you are no longer a student and now creating your own artwork, can you still use reference shots?
When you stumble upon a stunning artwork or photo that speaks to you, it can spark a flood of creative ideas. It might ignite your imagination, to assist you in developing your own unique creation.
You may draw on elements of the reference be it the colours, composition, theme, or mark making and reshaping them through your eye and interpretation.
When coming to creating your own artwork it is about making something that is uniquely your own. In the realm of creativity, using a photo or artwork for inspiration can be powerful as a reference for your own imaginative journey.
It is about interpreting, reimagining, and creating something that has your stamp of style, voice and take on the piece.
Personally, one of my favourite things to paint is flowers in vases. Whilst I may look at a van Gough for inspiration, for his use of light, colour and texture, I don't want to recreate his piece, I can do that with a photocopier or camera. I do however, want to look at his work and identify some of his prowess with the brush strokes, colour, texture and light, even seeing how I can incorporate some of his elements into my piece.
Although imitation is the highest form of flattery, true creativity lies not in replication but in the ability to weave inspiration into something uniquely your own. No to mention, copyright laws.
Lee Cummins is a mixed media artist, workshop and art class facilitator.