“Distillation” — Gilian Ayres (detail)

“Distillation” — Gilian Ayres (detail)

In last Friday’s Fun Friday Resources post, I encouraged you to STEAL from the work of Lee Bontecou, and I sensed that you felt icky about the prospect.

Would it help if I gave you a concrete example of an artist STEALING FROM THE BEST?

If you head over to the Tate Gallery, you will find “Distillation,” by Gillian Ayres. (The image to the left is a detail.)

Here’s the key phrase from the description: “Influenced by photographs of Jackson Pollock working on his drip paintings, Ayres worked on this painting while it was flat on the floor. “

Pay attention. This artist saw photographs of Jackson Pollock and decided to do what he did. She STOLE FROM THE BEST.

Does her painting look anything like a Jackson Pollock? No, it does not. She reverse-engineered what she saw Pollock doing and used what she found. She made his strategy her own, and her work is likewise her own.

So every time you think that STEALING FROM THE BEST is in some way cheating, stop it. It’s not cheating, it’s learning.