I got this anonymous message and it really made me think. This question has complicated answer, due to the fact I honestly feel as though I get influenced differently by different artists. One of my main goals has always been, to be as original as possible.
With that being said lets talk about the 3 types of artistic influence that I’ll be covering in this post. The 3 categories being 1. Old masters. 2. Contemporary Painters. 3. Friends of mine. I will do my best to share root of the inspiration I received from said artist.
1. Norman Rockwell
As a kid I remember seeing his artwork in places like Hometown Buffet and on commercials. The quality of his subject matter didn’t really stick out to me at the time. The thing that really impressed me is how he was able to create these scene’s of everyday life. Rockwell was the 1st artist that I saw imagine people of color in his artwork, this really grabbed me. It seemed like he saw the world through a very different set of eyes. The aspect of creating something monumental out of the experiences that we take for granted, is a skill I hope to achieve one day.
Now it wasn’t until I was in my late 20’s that I really got into Rembrandt. During this time I was taking an online art class (which was complete bullshit). I started to look into fine artist and discovered the painting above. Instantly I feel in love with how he created depth. The book pages really stood out to me, the weight of Paul’s arm on the book… The way the book is tight and loose in the same subject. You could tell this dude knew his shit, and looking at the images…I felt changed.
I would have to say of all the old masters, Bouguereau is the one that changed what I aspire to be as a painter. Being able to portray such a high level of movement, while demonstrating small nuances of how light works with form. When I look at his paintings I get emotional, it’s real. Bouguereau spent his whole life dedicated to art, so to climb to that peak, it’s going to take more on my part. Some days it’s a grim reality, and others it’s my driving force.
1. Fahamu Pecou
When I first stumbled across Fahamu I was looking for black painters for inspiration. I was really amazed at his subject matter. Also, most the painters I fuck with don’t use acrylics. But it’s the artist not the tools right? This guy was doing it, and doing it well. Recreating marketing schemes and inserting himself into them as well as faux magazine covers. The messages and presentation really stuck with me and I asked myself, “how can I use my voice to create a dialogue simply through my art?” I still don’t have an answer for that one.
2. Shawn Barber
During an art conversation with my long time friend Jason Profant (more on him in a minute). We would always tell each other to check out different artist. I think Jason noticed I was really developing an interest in portraits and classical style.One day he suggested I look up 2 artist. Shawn Barber and Bernini. At this point I was dipping my feet into oil painting. I was blown away by the whole idea of “Tattooed Portraits” and the level of detail acquired in theses paintings… I got busy with work and life for a few years and fell off of my art grind. When I decided to get back on the easel, I looked up those old artist and found out that I could actually attend one of Shawn’s Alla Prima classes. This was the most humbling artistic experience in my life. 3 hours to paint a model, and all the students ran circles around me. I would have to say this let me know what can really be done if you dedicate yourself and focus.
above: Painting at the Safehouse Atelier and soaking up the game from Shawn Barber.
This one was interesting because I knew a lady and she said to me. “You remind me of my cousin, he’s weird like you and he does art. He’s really good check out his stuff online”…… Let’s stop right there: When I hear something like that it raises red flags, but like a sinking ship off the harbor I had to take a look. What I found was a man who paints classical themes with modern subjects. These paintings really feel as though they take a huge amount of artistic discipline. Not only in painting but in the application of knowledge in art history as well. A quality that still to this day I am trying to obtain.
Part III Friends:
Now let me start of by saying that I have a lot of friends that are great artist. There are 2 individuals have really stand out when I think about “who has really inspired me?
We met in ’98 both having interests in Graffiti. Jason was always drawing or painting, and not only that. Always getting better in the craft and with concepts. We would draw in each other’s blackbooks and he would always leave some sort of trash talk to motivate me. As we got older I saw Jason go into a tattoo apprenticeship, and he never looked back. Seeing a close friend go after his dreams and be successful at it, really made me say “if he can do it, so can I”.
Last but not least. The first day I met Mike was at his “Seattle Legends” Solo Show (sometime in the mid 2000’s). Up until that point I had never seen oil paintings up close. I had always used acrylic or spray paint. The colors were rich with warm and cool tones. This was a defining moment in my life. I wouldn’t use oils for another 3 years but when I finally did, I never looked back.
The second thing I got from Mike was being honest in my art. We hadn’t talked in about 4 years (I left Seatown and focused on work work), so when we picked up I was in a different place artistically. At this point in time and up until this point, I did everything in my power to separate any traces of graffiti from my new art. Mike’s wisdom was “Don’t do that, it’s being dishonest. As an artist it’s our job to be as honest as possible…” This advice really got resonated with me. Moving forward my paintings started to change and I would think about how I could apply all of my art experience into my work.