Last night I spent some time looking at the websites of a number of artists, known and unknown, whose work I enjoy. It had been while since I'd done that, and I really enjoyed myself and felt excited afterwards... full of new ideas and ways to think about things and look at the world.
For the longest time I stopped studying at other artists' works because I would become so enamored with it that I would unintentionally (or 'intentionally') begin to copy it, or mimic it. That was a good thing for me to do, because I am the type of person who loves to be influenced by others. But that mentality can be problematic for those, like myself, who desire to hone their own technique and build their own body of work. So that is why I took a break from studying other artists for a few years.
It was very helpful. Now, after this "fast," I think I can look at other artists' works and enjoy it, and be influenced by it in positive ways, but not try to emulate it or copy it and thus be "unoriginal."