Saturday, February 19, 2011

Painting Under the influence......

No I am not refering to Spirits.. or the evils of Liqour.. I am referring to the influences that everything around us has on our work. Every artist is affected by the instruction and impression that our teachers have made on us. A favored artist we wish to emulate, the colours that surround us, the techniques we learn and adapt to suit us. The addition of new Mediums, media, and technologies.. all of these things influence the art we create.

As a child I had a romantic bent to everything I did, roses flowers, pretty things, Houses with picket fences and trees in the yard. Children playing and puppies running at thier feet. This romantic leaning continued until I reached highschool and  I met Mr Anderson. This wonderful Art teacher gave me an assignment after seeing my portfolio of drawings on the first day of Art classes. He told me to paint a landscape, using only black and white. Nothing else. I did.. it was dismal,,, a forest of burned out trees.. it had a smooth surrealistic, almost evil appearance.. I hated it.. he loved it! " So you can paint something other than hearts and flowers!" he said. The he asked me to paint a still life using the same palette, and then a portrait.. and then Flowers... a different subject everyday for a week. I started to love black and white. Then he told me to add one colour and repeat the process again. and then again adding yet another colour. It was a great AHAH! moment.  His odd method of getting me out of my comfort zone has had a tremendous influence on me that continued through out my education and continues to reverberate today.

My first art History lecture ... the subject was the " The Rinascimento" (The Rebirth or Renaissance) This was HUGE for me...another one of those AHA! moments. I examined portraiture, structure, anatomy, For months I took everthing I could find on the subject out of the library. I did sketch after sketch, with chalk, paint, charcoal. I read everything  I could find about technique, recipes for Glue and gesso,painting on linen instead of canvas. ANYTHING.I am still using many of the things I learned or a modern variation of them.

Then came the Impressionists...AHA! Moment!!  I was obsessed! The use of patches of colour, the play of light, the subtlies, and the beauty they captured with such seeminly reckless application of paint to canvas. Again I was a regular at  the library... and again I dove into the subject. Then came the Art Deco Movement, and the Cubists, and the Surrealists and the Dutch Masters.. One AHA! moment after another....I was under the Influence of Art in all of it's various and wonderful forms, it's history, it's power! Yes Power.... the power to communicate in one language that is understood by all.

One Arts Professor I had... . taught  drawing... he had me putting bubbles in everything.. If I drew a womans form  he had me using bubbles to create texture in the fabric, in her hair, in her skin.. in a still life he had me using bubbles, to create surface texture in almost everything...under his influence I saw past what was there, to what could be there. He taught me to see more. Yet another AHAH!Moment.

As artists we come under the influence of so many things , and we should take away something from each of them and apply them to our art.  When something takes your interest, Dive in...take it all in,  learn everything you can, pour over books, images, stories, photos, indulge in it, TRY IT. I promise you'll have an AHAH! moment of your own.

Besides it's great fun  painting under the influence. 


  1. Love this post! An Art History class started it all for me as well:)

  2. Will def be back when have more time. I am a new in beginner of 2 years....i think i shall always be a beginner...i posted a few of my artsy things on my blog