How to be inspired by other artists without copying them - part two of a five part series where we look at ways to approach and develop our own work without getting caught up in the work of other artists we love.

This post is the second in a series of five, in which we’re exploring ways to be inspired by the artists whose work you love, while keeping you focused on developing your own art.

Continuing our series, today we’re looking at colour palettes.

Part 1

Each week we’ll look at a single aspect of painting and how we can tease out the nugget of what’s inspiring us so we can be sure we’re making our own work and not a heavily influenced hybrid or attempted copy of someone else’s. I’m keeping them quite short and sweet, and action oriented, so you can take the ideas and literally try them out for yourself.

I have no doubt there are infinite ways to do this, and in part it will just happen the more you paint, but the ways I find most helpful include a bit of left brain analysis and a breaking down into parts. The right brain can then rebuild into new things with the new ideas.

So this week’s suggestion is:

Try out their signature colour palettes

Most artists don’t stick to one colour palette their whole lives, but often an artist will dive deeply into one general area of colours for quite a while. {Case in point; my ongoing but evolving obsession with variations on blue and yellow.} Sometimes that area will be guided by the artist’s state of mind or environment; for example, Gauguin’s hot colours come directly from his surroundings in French Polynesia.

Here are some examples of artists who fully explore{d} certain colour palettes:

A suggestion to make it yours:

Think about the palette of a favourite artist – one easy way to see many paintings by that artist at once is to do a Pinterest or Google Image search. When you look at them all together you’ll see certain colours cropping up over and over.

Now mix a few colours that match the main ones from your image search. Keep it to three or four at first if you need a low barrier to entry! Using a reference image if you wish, make a test painting using that palette, but in a different subject to your chosen artist. {Make sure it’s one that excites you!} You’ll soon discover if it works the way you want it to, whether you need a greater range of values or to bring in an accent that was missing.

The beauty of a test painting is that it’s a test painting. This is experimenting 101 – research and discover!

In Part Three of the series, we’ll look at subject matter. Stay tuned!


Artist InspiredIf you’re enjoying these explorations into finding inspiration from other artists while continuing to develop your own visual vocabulary and language, you might like to go a bit deeper with Artist Inspired, or Artist Inspired II {which focuses on women artists}. Both are available inside the Happy Artist Studio – click here to find out more!


“Artist Inspired was essential to me to understand more about the creative process, and how our creativity can also be nurtured by experiencing the work of the Masters. Kandinsky was a great experience! His paintings are not my favourite ones but the prompt which incited us to paint while listening to music was real magic for me! I feel uninhibited in my art now!” 

Sophie Kerdellant