Other People’s Work

My sister, Maybeth, fell in love with an abstract nude while gallery perusing. To her dismay, the piece was not destined to hang on her walls as it was betrothed to another. To my delight, she asked me to recreate this painting for her on an 8×10 canvas to join her “small works” collection. The finish piece is above. I adore it, and am still amazed that it came from my own pushing of oil paint.

So much is learned creatively when trying to recreate other’s work within my own vision. I would have never used orange as a base coat if I was not trying to achieve the sunny glow of the original piece, and I love it. I also would not have played with color when accenting the curves and details of the female form, which provide contrast and visual points of interest. For some reason, even with a long line of art classes in my history in which copying the masters was necessary, I try to create in a vacuum. It’s silly, and only prohibits my own growth as an artist.

Professionally, I actively scout out what other development offices at cultural nonprofits are doing. I analyze what is available, solicit feedback, and implement new strategies and initiatives into my own fundraising models and charges. This is part of what keeps me ahead of the curve within my own current organization: I know what others are doing and how we might use this information to leverage gains; I am constantly playing with ideas and seeking solutions to common setbacks and hangups; I openly share with my team through engaging conversations.

If success is found professionally in looking at other people’s work, it must also fuel my creative progress. It’s not about just being open and receptive in the office, but also in my personal pursuits, flights of fancy, and creative endeavors. Ideas are of no use when kept to ourselves. The real magic of our work, our thoughts, and all that we actively put into this world is the cascade of effects that follow that add to the collective consciousness and fuel other people’s work, which will soon return to fuel my own. It’s the eternal return (thank you, Nietzsche).