Thursday, 31 July 2008

My Art influences

I once had an art teacher who gave me a clear understanding of the nature of derivation in Art. She advised us to trace and acknowledge our "Influences" - ie. those artists whose work had had a powerful and influential effect on our work.
Let's face it - all art is derivative in some way or another. We are all essentially
"copyists" - whether it be of nature or whether it be of some or other artist, movement or period. Nothing is truly original these days. It has all been done before, by someone greater. Nevertheless we strive to be original within the confines of our own little worlds and limitations and I am keenly aware of those at the moment!
One thing I am sure about is that my work, flawed as it is in many respects, is entirely my own, in the sense that it has been painted entirely by me - no other artist or teacher has had a hand in it.
However there have been artists throughout History that have had a profound effect on my work. Early in my career I slavishly copied the works of Degas, Velasquez and Renoir. I longed to achieve the luscious tones of Renoir, the powerful lines of Velasquez and the multi-layered transparency of Degas. When I was a child I had a print in my room of Degas' ballet dancers. Even though I was only about 5 years old, that print had a profound effect on my young mind, as did his horse paintings. I loved to draw dancers "en pointe" and horses. Sadly none of these drawings survived but I do remember doing countless studies and little portraits and profiles of my heroes of the time or a fantasy boyfriend!
Other artists who have had a profound effect have been Rembrandt, van Gogh, Monet, Lowry, Edward Hopper, Klimt, Hundertwasser, Georgia O'Keefe. There have been many others but I return to these over and over for inspiration. My latest passions are Botero and Sir Stanley Spenser.
So far I can see no real link between any of these painters and why I should choose them over others, but perhaps in time it will become clearer. For the moment I can only wish I could find my true "fach" or "voice". I am so unsure of myself and my techniques that I end up frustrated by my efforts. I seem to swing from chocolate box to complete abstract with nothing in between.
The two paintings on the right of this page are indicative of my state of mind. The top one I called "Fish out of water" - this sums it up perfectly. My influences in this case were the style of O'Keefe and the World book encyclopaedia for the "Devilfish" in the water and the cross-section of a fish skeleton! The main theme of the painting is isolation, big fish in a small pond, being a white person in a black world .. Yes, well......use your own imagination!
The picture beneath it was also influenced by Georgia O'Keefe. It was an old painting that wasn't going anywhere and then I started using a new brush and all hell broke loose- no really it felt as if the brush had its own agenda and was moving by itself. All I did was obey its orders! If this sounds crazy, well, what can I say. Briefly I felt as if I was in a Harry Potter movie and it felt GOOOOOOOOD!!!!
Please leave a comment. I would love to know what you think.

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