I mentioned that people outside our particular area of interest can often influence our development in that area. I like that because comparing our work to that of the great masters is often challenging. I admire the work of CS Lewis, but I could never compare my writing to his. Monet is my favorite painter, but I haven't painted a work of art since the stuff that was on the fridge when I was in second grade. So does Monet influence my art?
I'd rather say that Monet influences my writing and Lewis influences my art. Not only does it get me out of that sticky comparison thing, it opens up new ways to look at what I do. I love the juxtaposition of one form of art studied in light of another form of art. Try using musical metaphors to describe a painting, or the language of 2-D art to describe a piece of writing. This approach leads to some serendipitous results. I especially like it because it treats the artist holistically, rather than stuff him or her into one category. As a writer, I'm always looking for new sources of inspiration. As I said before, influence is different than inspiration. But perhaps inspiration can come from contemplating influence.