Tuesday, 28 January 2014

I never thought I'd steal, but I do...

I admit it, I cry easily. Just ask my kids - they will tell you the truth:
I leak from my eyes ~ often. 
I am moved by love, compassion, joy, suffering, 
you name the tear-jerking emotion and I likely beat you to it, 
tissue in hand, wiping off my make-up 
once again.

So, to tell you that a book brought me to tears might not impress you, 
or cause you to run out and and buy it.
But if I tell you the book is called 
"Steal like an Artist" {by Austin Kleon}
you may be a little bit perplexed. 

As an artist 
{and sometimes I struggle calling myself that
I battle with the blank canvas demon... 
"What if I ruin that beautiful white canvas with something ugly?" 
"What if I have nothing to say?"
 "What if there is no inspiration when I sit down to my journal?" 
"Do I have any original ideas?"  

I look at my work and often remember 
the painting, the Pin, the photo or the artist that inspired it, 
and I sometimes feel shame:
Did I copy? 
Am I unique? 
Am I a fake?  

I think of the inspiration I felt when I saw the initial work ... 
how my heart lept
how I wanted to run to my studio and do something like it, 
how I wanted to feel about my work what I felt in that moment.

This book is for anyone who battles the battle of 
"finding your own voice" in your creative work.  
It has released me to steal:
 to grab what I see and love 
and bring it into my personal storehouse of creativity. 

This book reminds us of the age-old tradition of learning an art:
 Steal an idea here, borrow another there. 
Mesh all those all together and you get you. 
We used to call that being an apprentice. 
All artists do it. 
It is how we learn.
And somehow through that process,
we find our own artistic, unique voice.

I've had the question asked of me: 
"Is this your idea, or did you see it somewhere and copy it?" 
What is the correct answer to that question?  
It's," Yes!  I copied it, and it was my idea."
 I'm learning, I'm drawing out the things I like 
and I'm adding them to my library of inspiring ideas
And in that process
I'm finding my voice, my signature, me

So yes, "Steal Like an Artist" made me cry. 
It showed me that I am on the same journey that 
artist after artist 
has taken throughout time. 
It released me, 
and gave me wings 
to keep learning from others. 

{please note: this is not talking about plagiarism which is copying something that belongs to another and claiming it as yours ... it's about copying to learn, grow and add your bit of you into it. 
Kleon explains that part well.}

Incidentally, I heard of this book through 
an on-line course I'm taking called, 
hosted by Jeanne Oliver 
{check her amazing blog and classes out here}. 

Thank you to both Austin and Jeanne 
for knowing that we all want to be original 
and reminding us that well worn path the originality 
is to learn from those who know what they are doing!  

Here it is: Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon
{you can find out more about him out here}.

Go on now, in this case, it's okay to steal.



  1. Thanks for posting that Silvia. Michaela's audition at Cawthra School for Fine Arts is in 2 hours. Michaela needed to read that today as she was struggling with talking about her canvas painting. She was inspired by another painting she saw, but what she has painted, she has definitely made her 'own'! Say a prayer for her! ♥Nirvana

  2. Your words could be my words!
    Accidently stumbled over this book by taking Studying under the Masters.
    Isn't this a releave? Got through it in one day and handed it over to my daughter, a to-be architect and interior designer.
    For me it was so freeing to think about looking at other peoples art in this way.

    1. Thanks for the comment Anne. I am recommending this book to every artist I know!