Adapt other artist's ideas.

In various blog posts and places on I've suggested you study other artists' work.

I've even gone so far as to encourage you to steal ideas from other artists, since this thievery is a time-honored tradition among artists.

In fact, I'm willing to bet the prehistoric hunters who painted the cave walls of Lascaux studied and learned from each others work.

But, please notice, I am not advocating that you try to exactly copy or clone someone else's style. I have no respect for that crap.

What I am advocating is you should study the work of artists you admire and their ideas as a starting point to develop your own style, your own way of working.

As an example, I want to show you something from my own development. Below is an illustration I did many years ago for a publisher of Sunday school materials. The assignment was to depict the biblical scene where Samson destroys the temple.

Around the time of this job I had begun to incorporate in my work ideas I saw in the work of other illustrators. I was especially drawn to how powerfully David Grove and Michael Dudash simplified their subjects and designed their compositions.

I studied the way they painted, and I experimented to see if I could create in watercolors the same effects they got with acrylics and oils.

The illustration below is one result of that experimentation.

I found that I could apply watercolor more thickly than most watercolorists do. When it dried I could go back into it with a damp brush and pull off paint where I wanted lighter areas.

After that it was a simple matter of applying some darks to create more contrast in the people.

Even though I used a very simple, monochromatic color scheme for this illustration, the result was still an interesting painting.

Painting doesn't have to be complicated. All too often beginning artists make it so by not learning how to simplify their work.

By studying the work of people I admired, I learned how to eliminate unneeded detail. I learned how to reduce my idea to its simplest terms.

I learned to See with my imagination. (I had photographic reference for the three foreground figures, but everything else was from imagination.)

I learned to create structure – that is, I learned how important design was to creating a good painting.

Notice how I designed this painting so your eyes go immediately to Samson, then to the man on the left, then to the woman and the man on the right and back to Samson.

But, I want you to realize the story doesn't end there.

I stopped using watercolor years ago. But I found when I turned to pastels that I was still using what I learned from watercolors. I still loved having a color tone on the paper and creating lights and darks out of it and even let the paper color show through in places.

You can see what I'm talking about in my online gallery especially in the figurative work.

My painting style today resulted, because I studied the work of people I admired, people who used completely different media than I did.

It can do the same for you. Be willing to study good ideas from any medium or field of art. You never know where they will lead.

Best Wishes,

Gary Gumble
Founder of

"Without art the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable" (George Bernard Shaw)

P.S. By studying the work of other artists you can begin to reduce your own struggles.

If you don't learn from other artists you are constantly trying to reinvent the wheel.

They already went through this learning stage, allow their work to teach you some of what you don't know.

Figure out how they created their designs. Figure out how they created their images.

Otherwise, art can be a long, often frustrating endeavor.

P.P.S. Have a friend who would enjoy this article? Send it to them and invite them to join my blog. Click here to Subscribe.