To learn more about how to shade and provide contrast, sometimes I try to copy another artist's work. I want to see how they do it and try to recreate it as best I can to learn more about how I can achieve various effects.
The image above is something I did in my journal, trying to recreate a painting I'd seen online. Although I was reasonably successful in doing this, the work feels lifeless to me. There's no energy or expression in it. It isn't sharing some essential part of me that I see in the work I do that just comes from inside.
There's a metaphor for life in this, I think. When we try to follow pathways that others have gone down before, try to be them, we can only produce a shadow of that other self because it isn't truly us. While I can learn from where others have been, for me to feel the life and energy of true expression, I have to find a way to integrate the lessons I learn from others into my own unique path in life.