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inspiration vs imitation

 Early this year or late last year I painted this piece. It's called "Bent" and is 16x20" acrylic paint on canvas with knitting needles.  Please excuse the desk light This piece came to me in a dream. Seriously! I know it sounds dumb, but I dreamt of this piece and then I did my best to recreate it in the real world. I was super happy with it when it was finished. I showed it to my partner who immediately said I must have been inspired by an artist friend of mine.  I was deeply upset by that statement. What I heard was "you copied him" despite that not being said. I was ashamed that I had inadvertently copied him, sure that such a thing would ruin our friendship. I know it might sound silly, but something similar happened to me before. To be accused of stealing the work of a friend destroyed me (though I don't want to imply it was the reason our friendship ended. I am guilty there as well), and I thought I had evolved past that behavior. I thought I had

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