A Case Study of Inspiration / by Jennifer Wagner

I wanted to share an example of how I gain inspiration by another person's work and then put my personal twist on it.

I have long admired Anahata Katkin of Papaya! If you aren't familiar with her, you can learn about her at her blog and find lots of great examples of her work at her gorgeous online store.  

This year I have one of her calendars (appropriately titled "Twelve Muses") hanging right next to my computer monitor so whenever I am working in Photoshop, one of her beautiful paintings is always in my field of vision, seeping into my subconscious.  

October's image, "The Swallows" is probably my favorite, I have this same piece on a canvas hanging elsewhere in my house.  So I have looked at it a lot.  You can see the original image here.

I set myself a challenge of trying to recreate it in Photoshop.  Anahata Katkin typically starts with a painted canvas which she brings into Photoshop where she further edits and embellishes it to use in her product lines.  I just started with a white background in Photoshop, popped in a background of a similar color and blacked out the top portion.  I found a woman in an old painting who was looking the same direction and edited that to bring it a little closer to the black and white charcoal look of the original.  Then I spent several hours building up paint textures, learning and having fun along the way.  

Attempting to recreate someone's work is a great exercise in really looking closely at things, seeing how the composition plays out, why it works and most importantly what draws you to it.  It makes you think about why you are enthralled by something and then you can employ what you learn to make pieces that captivate others.

I really loved working on that piece and decided I wanted to try a few more that retain some of the elements of my original inspiration but really are my own.  I wanted to see if I could create a series, something akin to a triptych.  This is where your own creativity can kick in and you can approach a piece utilizing the lessons you learned from the inspiration.  Stay tuned for my upcoming post where I will reveal the three pieces I created as a result of this experiment!