Early waterccolor

The inspiration vs. creation ratio

What is the correct ratio for inspiration vs creation?

Personally I am very concerned about originality.

It’s an obsession of mine.

Knowing well that nothing these days is truly original, I struggle with each one of my pieces because I know I used a reference photo, I borrowed colors using the Adobe Color app or that I did an exercise or tutorial step by step and thus getting an almost identical result to the original work.

A photo posted by Luisa F. (@jesuiseclectique) on

The road of the self-taught artist is like setting a caged animal free. We will roam all around dizzy and high of so much space, supplies and how-to’s bumping into things, until we’re exhausted.
This is true for me at least.

I get adrenaline rushes when I discover a new technique, I can’t sleep when I’m reading about color, which is almost late at night and there’s no use for me to get up and try to paint because the light won’t help, or when I start browsing Pinterest and other sites and see how lovely or how ugly some art (seems to me).

I recently found a book that is giving me a breather from all this running around. Books are yet another matter and the library is the source of my endless overwhelm but, the book A Passion for Watercolor: Painting the Inner Experience by Stefan Draughton is a little gem. Though her style of painting is not what I aspire to, it has helped me break the spell of trying to make pretty watercolors.

The other book I found invaluable was The Watercolor Artist’s guide to Exceptional Color by Jan Hart, I had just taken a watercolor workshop which literally reconfigured the way I look at color. When I found this book I finally understood the different types of watercolor paint and the different palettes you can create. I have yet to choose my own palette so I can stop spending ridiculous amounts of money trying different brands, but I assume the expense, it’s either experimenting or going to class and since I’m a hard-core self-learner, I rather learn by experience.

But inspiration vs. creation.

I’ve calculated two years between my first contact with watercolor and the day I will make unique pieces.

I’m very forgiving with other artists using reference photos because they manage to create truly derivative works. I make my pieces using reference photos but I rarely thread away from what I see. I’m terrified about discovering that I might not be creative.

I would love to have a mentor, or a group of people who are self-taught artists themselves. Oh wait! Maybe I can create one? Would you be interested?
Tweet me if you would!

Work in progress

A photo posted by Luisa F. (@jesuiseclectique) on

In the meantime, I have huge difficulties narrowing down. My recent venture into digital illustration is also taking up space in my head and caused a detour in my non-digital painting. The possibilities are endless. It makes a bit sad though because the idea behind painting in watercolors was to get away from the computer and now I’m super excited about learning illustrator and translating hand-drawn graphics into digital graphics.

I guess the more you do, the more you move forward and the less you look at other people’s work in the same field as you will slowly point you into new sources of inspiration. If I want to create fashion illustrations I shouldn’t be looking at other fashion illustrators because I’ll end up copying. I could probably get to a museum, see performance art or things like that.

How do you, as an artist, manage inspiration vs. creation?

Color Workshop with Sabina Radeva (this is a referral link, look for Color Workshop)

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