Aphorisms for Artists by Walter Darby Bannard

Aphorism #44

Always steal from other artists, but never steal from yourself.

Picasso said, “Bad artists copy, good artists steal,” succinctly illustrating the difference between servile imitation and the creative theft of a new technique.

I had a graduate student once who spent an entire semester painting large landscapes taken directly from Matisse. Everyone got on his case about it, but when the semester ended he had thoroughly ingested Matisse, and it serves him well to this day.

Endlessly repeating your own pictorial successes, on the other hand, is a failure of the imagination and will debilitate your art. Art makes you regularly reinvent the wheel or it gets bored and wanders off.

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