My Art Influences

In an effort to expand my knowledge and speak a bit more intelligently about art, I have started to read artist biographies. I swear I took multiple art history courses while at school for my profession, but based on my current state of ignorance, not much sunk in. As I started to read, I noticed that every well known artist has a multitude of influences that helped to shape their unique styles. This got me thinking....who shaped my style? Whom do I count as my art influences? Many are famous, historical figures I was introduced to in school, but there is also a handful that are my colleagues and are currently striving to make their own mark on the world. So, without further ado, my top ten artistic influences:

  1. Edward Hopper--Hopper’s high contrasted depiction of natural scenes and architecture greatly affected my own treatment of the scenes around me. Like Hopper, I tend to lay in very intense lights and darks and I have a feeling I enjoy photographing in the late afternoon in part because of this artist’s influence. Hopper is also a grand story teller with his paintings (he actually started as a commercial illustrator before his paintings really took off) and I gravitate toward that as well.

2. Mark Rothko-- This may seem odd, but I just love Rothko’s work. I’m not an abstract artist, but his color work and simple compositions are just mesmerizing. His simplicity and purity pushes me to think and care about every brushstroke I put down. I never tire of looking at his paintings. I don’t know much about this artist, but I know that his work speaks to me on a deeper level. It's on my to-do list to get a good book on Rothko and understand him better.

3. Andrew Wyeth--Wyeth was an early influence in my art. I was struck by his unique compositions and loved how he pushed all the standards in design. Odd compositions that would make you cock your head in curiosity and intrigue. His detailed, realistic treatment of trees and grasses continues to influence me to this day. And I too, love causing a viewer to stop and ponder...I do this with collage as opposed to odd compositional elements.

4. Norman Rockwell--Rockwell is a masterful illustrator, able to say so much in one image. My desire to convey meaning and relevant story caused me to be drawn to this artist. I would copy his illustrations in school, learning from his use of composition and figure.

5. Caravaggio--What struck me about Caravaggio was how he was before his time in pushing high contrast, leaving much of his compositions to be interpreted by viewers...trusting them to figure it out rather than painting in every detail. This is the way I like to work and his work was some of the first to show me how successful this method can be. Mystery in the shadows. Intensity that draws you in. Suggestions that allow a viewer to finish the story on their own.

6. Rembrandt--It is the warmth of Rembrandt that captivated me. To this day, my paintings tend toward the warmer tones. Like many of my other influences, he was a masterful storyteller in his suggestive and energetic drawings and paintings.

7. Brian Richmond--Although Brian is no longer working in abstracted landscapes, it was his work that first attracted me to creating very high or low horizon lines in my work. Seeing one of my contemporaries push boundaries encouraged me to try this as well and I’ve never looked back.

8. Teresa Haag--This colleague of mine works in a style as close to mine that I’ve seen thus far in my career and I continue to learn from her as I watch her develop. Although she works primarily in city scapes, I’ve learned from her to be more painterly and allow more and more of the collage materials to show through on my own work.

9. Jeff Schaller--”Don’t put text in your work...people won’t look, they will read” was a warning I got in school. Well, after seeing Jeff’s successful pop art that constantly incorporated words, I decided I wasn’t going to listen to that warning. The use of text in my work can be largely attributed to watching how Jeff has used it in a way that adds rather than detracts.

10. Jasmine Alleger--Alleger is another young colleague of mine that also works in collage. I’ve learned much from studying her collage backgrounds and I always look forward to what she paints next so I can study and learn from her.

We all have influences...what are your’s? Please share in the comments.

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