Posted on 27 Comments

b Original


U R U Know.  Original, that is.

Every one of us is a unique soul in a specific place at any given moment, so by definition, we are all “original”.  You don’t have to try to “BE” original, because you already are.  It’s a powerful truth, and one that many of us find hard to accept.  That we are each special, with an unlimited capacity for CREATIVITY, for invention and re-invention, is real.  Believe it.

In Webster’s Dictionary, one definition of ORIGINAL is “a person of fresh initiative or inventive capacity.”

In art, the concept of what is ORIGINAL is something that has been debated over and over.  I look at art in two ways:

1)  Every piece of art is unique and “original” in the sense that it was created by a specific person at a specific time and place, but…………

2)  Nothing in art is really “original” because it is building upon the artist’s experiences and influences and lessons — it is all a continuum through human history and THAT’S what makes is so precious and sacred to me.  We are all connected…….

DISCLAIMER #1:  I love to copy!!!!  How often I’ve been complimented on something I’ve made and happily confessed that I copied it from something else I saw.  That’s how we learn!  Did you know that Picasso was perfectly copying realistic paintings when he was a child?  That was how he taught himself how to see things and the techniques used by the old masters.  Many many people seem to think that if you’re not creating a wholly “original” piece of art, then you are not an artist.  Or worse, you are wasting your time.  There is no shame in copying.  By copying and practicing over and over, our abilities become ingrained, and eventually we can give flight to what our imaginations envision.


DISCLAIMER #2:  I have a degree in Art History (you may have guessed by now) and something that bothered me all those years ago in college is how there was some secret rule about what was or wasn’t ART.  Like the fact that an artist produced something beautiful and emotionally uplifting wasn’t enough to consider it ART.  More often than not, what was considered ART was emotionally troubling, daring and shocking, and usually male-centric.  Dwelling on what was feminine was not considered worthy or serious.  What a bunch of b******t!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I am just so over-the-moon energized to be living in this day and making and seeing and sharing ART that is gorgeous and love-filled and soul-stirring and unapologetically girly.  Yes, it is ART.

Phew!  OK!  Feels good to send THAT message out into the blogosphere, LOL!!!!

So about this b Original U R collage.  I love to comb thrift stores for great picture frames and discarded pictures that need a little love.  I am also a student of Brave Girl Art School (, taught by the phenomenal Melody Ross, and one of our assignments was to do a “Soul Sisters” collage.  So I picked up these two ladies in their nice wood frame for $5 and got busy:


This was a print on canvas and on the back it was titled “Water Maids”.  You might look at this and see them as creatures of drudgery and burden.  But I also felt something about them was serene, almost sacred, and that was the point at which I wanted to start.  To see them with fresh eyes.  Isn’t that how all of us wish to be seen?  Not necessarily from the first impression we give off, but on a deeper level.

IMG_2661         IMG_2671

I imagined them as two Soul Sisters on a sacred walk through a beautiful tropical forest, gently carrying shiny orbs of truth: U and R (for “you are original”).  One following the other, but each unique and beautiful in her own way.  No one better than the other, just fabulously different.  I used lots of paints, mediums, fabrics, beads and bling which Melody Ross has taught us in BGAS, the techniques which I copied in order to learn them, then modified to use in my own vision.  A fresh  vision.  ORIGINAL but also connected to that continuum of art and expression that has connected us humans since the beginning of time.  How incredibly wonderful is that?  Everything you and I do, in art or in other pursuits is ORIGINAL.  We can’t help it!!!


I was SO EXCITED about the great response I got last week to my first post!!!  Starting a discussion about these ideas is my dream come true!  I am going to try my best to post here every Wednesday, and your replies keep me going — you are SO IMPORTANT to me!!!!  So please don’t hold back, tell me and us what you think — we REALLY WANT TO KNOW…….

Now I ask YOU:  what does being ORIGINAL mean to you?  Is it something you wrestle with or think you cannot possibly be?  Is it even important to you, and why or why not?

27 thoughts on “b Original

  1. YOU are SO darling, Lisa! I am THRILLED for you – this is a terrific start! I LOVE this piece and the journey you went through to create it! I’m an equally frustrated Art Major, and I can’t believe HOW similar our experiences have been! As for my definition of original, I have to say, it’s not a concept I worry about. I came to a similar resolution a long time ago, about how NOTHING, no matter HOW proprietory it seems, has never been done in some way or another. I stake my “claim”, so to speak, on a piece of artwork, by listing to the language of my journey. That’s the only part that I can really own – the journey.

    I can’t wait to keep up with your lovely blog! Congrats, my dear!

    1. Yes! The journey is what its all about, what makes our heart race and our imagination take off. Do you find, like I do, that when something is finished there is a bit of sadness or letdown, even if it turned out wonderfully? I guess that’s why we keep going, on to the next and the next. Thanks so much for your kind words, Elise!!! I do hope you follow and continue with these discussions, I hope to post every Wednesday. Recently a little birdy told me you have a fabulous barn shop that she knew I must check out — when are you there?

  2. Are you now drinking the river water? Kidding! What do I think is original. I like this assignment. OK. The UCSB quick and dirty answer after procrastinating all quarter (remind you of anyone?)…
    Original to me doesn’t matter. Yep. That’s true. Too often we seek to be original or unique when we are missing the point. The point is to create, to offer something that betters the world, yourself, your family, you get my point. To create shouldn’t be in a vacuum. It SHOULD be on other’s shoulders or with others surrounding you. Anyway, I guess I am just venting about the fact that too much emphasis is on original when it comes to art and marketing. But here is what i believe…. We seek the original because we are actually seeking to do something NEW. We can aspire to present the world with something that they may now see in a new light. It reminds me of the Jasper Johns exhibit i recently saw at SFMOMA, that seemed to be his point, to show us things in a different way that we could easily miss because of our “set in our ways” perspectives. So to me, original is only important if it shows us something in a new light that can open our minds and hearts to better understand others and our world.

    1. How eloquently said, C.T.!!!!! I think this “originality-itis” is really rampant in the younger generation and the net result is that many young people don’t even TRY or put themselves out there, for fear of failure or being “un-original”. How sad is that? Because we all learn best from failures. And I hate to see talented young minds wasting those energetic potentially-inventive years, until they’re old fogies like us who don’t give a s**t anymore!?!?!?!!?!!!!
      BTW, your b-day gift is gathering dust….it wants to move to its new home……

  3. Love this post, the sun is shining brightly in Lisaville!! We were just discussing what is original today between three of us. This is what I think- that only a very few masters or incredibly gifted artists really produce something original. I am relatively new to art and copying and learning someone’s technique is part of the learning process, however out of respect there is no way that I would ever claim that it is my “original art”. I would always give credit to the person who taught me or after whom it is inspired and that it is for my own enjoyment, not for sale. And at the same time when you teach art you have to be in a place of letting go and knowing that there will be many art pieces now out there that resemble your art because your students are practicing and producing which is what it should be all about!! I’ve heard this discussion from both the student and the teacher point of view- Sign me up for the instructor who has enough generosity to let go so that I might somewhere along the way find my wings to fly because they have helped shape my feathers here and there with their instruction, guidance and encouragement. If I am talented enough and work at my art, maybe perhaps one day I might discover something original or maybe it is enough just be original “me” enjoying an art filled life.

    1. Here here, Mel!!! Well said. And I happen to know that you are a PURE ORIGINAL and you are SO MUCH MORE than “enough”!!!! You are delightfully talented.
      I think another way of looking at this might be that there is a difference between teaching a “style” vs. teaching a “technique”. Style is very personal and unique, and students often do tend to mimic their teacher’s style when learning the techniques. And copying someone’s style and selling it is definitely going in to murky territory. But techniques, to me, are owned by no one. After all, they were learned by the teacher from their teacher or source material. It would be an extremely delusional teacher who would claim to have wholly invented the tools and techniques that they use! Like when you learn a foreign language — something passed down through the generations from person to person, the teacher is just a conduit. And art teachers are conduits for techniques — that’s how they learned it themselves. I’m so thrilled to have these discussions!!!

  4. I went to art school and literally found myself apologizing to my painting teacher and classmates for being an upbeat and happy person. I kind of was the only one and it was a very difficult environment in which to find myself. They really looked down their noses at me. By the end I was creating CRAP and inventing stories to go with it and they loved it. So stupid on so many levels. I also love that we are seeing so much positive and happy soul-full art these days. Thank you, Lisa! This is a wonderful post.

    1. Oh my gosh, Laurie, we have so much in common!!! And how many others out there experienced the same thing? Even most of the female professors went along with this travesty, and if they didn’t they were marginalized for being either “irrelevant” or “frivolous”. Such a waste and a shame. But now I’m so grateful we have found each other because of this wonderful internet tool. I wish we lived closer!!!! xoxoxoxxoxo

      1. Me too!!! I hope to get to see you soon!!!

  5. I am following you over from my blog, Creativity Tribe. I love your piece and especially your interpretation. Where some might have seen burden with the labor the women were doing, you saw that they were presenting something. That kind of perspective switcheroo is a great reminder to us all that when we see difficulty, we can turn it into something more sacred. Cheers!

    1. Thank you so much, Rachel!!!! We need these reminders. I love your blog too and got there through Jessica Brogan. I’m so excited to be launching this new adventure. Stay tuned….

  6. Just love this!

    1. Thanks so much, Carla!!!!!

  7. Wonderful stories and ideas I love. I was teaching songwriting to girls in the juvenile hall today and trying to help them find a hook for a song using little bits of headlines… Trying to find original out of available I think… I love your piece Lisa it just sings!

    1. Trying to find the original out of the available — I love that!!! And that’s where the creativity is born. They say that artists work best under “constraints” such as that, and I have to agree.
      Laura, you are so amazing. I am thrilled to hear that you are working with these girls!! We have so much in common. I and the world would love to hear your story, how about starting a blog??? We fogies have stories to tell in this blog world! xoxoxo

  8. Your piece is awesome. You have expressed the comradery of the feminine moving through the blessings of life.
    I couldn’t help but notice that the “Water Maids” wouldn’t be able to carry water with their heads bowed like in the picture. One has to be very erect to balance load on one’s head –I’ve tried. You took an image and created a meditation.

    1. Oh do you have a picture of you carrying something on your head??? Probably not, but THAT would be a photo worth posting, tee hee!!! You have so many interesting layers to your story, Deb, and I cherish every new one that I get to know about. Thanks for what you said about my piece here, you are definitely my Soul Sister <3

  9. Thank you for all you’re inspiration. After retiring to life, not from it, I’m finally realizing that I am creative in so many ways. I had been told many time’s that my garden should be in a magazine or on home tours. I didn’t see it that way. My individuality and style in decorating my humble abode didn’t seem up to par with others, but my heart and soul inspired me to do it my way. The word creativity never came to mind. Now that I’m painting and stumbling
    with minimal instruction I’m beginning to understand how unique creativity is. After all, I’m an individual on my own journey and see life in my own unique way.
    Thank you for inspiring me to move forward with positive energy and grab on to whatever strikes my fancy and tackle it with gusto… ORIGINAL way!

    1. I love how you have retired “to” life, Sandy!!! Because there is nothing retiring about you. I really admire how you follow your own drumbeat and don’t feel the need to follow whatever’s trendy at the moment. You are a true ORIGINAL! And I hope you post more photos of your home and garden because everything you’ve posted so far has be gorgeous. Gusto??? I’d say that should be your middle name, LOL!!!

  10. I love how the universe works. I had a couple of friends over for an art day and both of them were talking about a book called: Steal like an Artist by Austin Kleon (see link below). I now have the book in hand and would highly recommend it. The title did twerk with me just a tad. lol

    1. Yes the universe doesn’t fool around! When something keeps coming to you from all different places its like saying, “pay attention!” Hmmmmmm, I’d love to know what you conclude about all this.

  11. Oh, Lisa…you are so wise! Am so happy that you are flying….xoxo Kathleen/North Dakota

    1. I aspire to be half as wise as you, Kathleen!!!! XOXOXOXO

  12. Oh my gosh…I so relate to what you said about “real” art so much! I didn’t get my masters in fine art because I was so weary of all art having to be heavy and dark, anything light or happy got the dreaded “trite” label! For me as an artist, I want art that makes me feel good and reminds me of the beauty of life in my space…not art that reminds me of pain. (not that there is anything wrong with that type of art, it’s just not what I choose to do, or if I do, it’s not what I choose to share) Well said! Thanks!

    1. I completely relate to what youre saying because it was the same for me. And I’m sure thousands of other art students. Such a shame! Thank goodness we can now share this goodness on the Internet. Thanks for all your sweet comments Shelly and I’m so glad youre going to follow me here!

  13. This reminds me of a children’s book By Tomie DePaola called The Art Lesson. We read it every year in second grade and it always initiated interesting discussions. Children learn by “doing” but first need instruction, guided practice , and examples. We didn’t learn to read or write without exposure to print and stories. They need to copy the letters to learn to write. In time they will develop a style and a voice of their own but first they need a guide. I think it is the same with art. We needed to learn how to use the tools before we began. Then with practice and examples we may develop a style of our own. I am not there yet! I still need examples, instruction, lots more practice, and encouragement. Each artistic expression is our own individual take on something we have learned and wish to demonstrate. And oh what fun it is to do!

    1. Its so important to remember how we learned as children, and how that hasn’t changed at all. Something new is something new at any age. I don’t know where or when we got the idea that we’re not supposed to copy anything, but it seems to be a common belief. And keeping it FUN is just so essential! Something else we can learn from little kids. This drive to “perfection” that we all seem to latch on to (is that in adolescence?) ends up just stopping us from trying. Practicing something that is fun is bliss!!!! You are so wise, dear Kam.

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