I was sitting at home the other day looking through some of my art books. I have a giant Degas book that was a gift from my parents, that came from the Norton Simon Museum (the book, not my parents.) I love Degas and the way the application of chalk or paint (he can do both with equal effectiveness) can communicate the transitory quality of a fleeting moment. It adds an intimacy to the piece as if we were there as the washerwoman yawns while she works (presumably from being overworked and raising a family)
This quality, as well as his use of cropping the frame like the relatively new medium of photography, incorporating patterns in a similar fashion to the Japanese wood block prints that were popular at the time, and employing as subject matter, working class women (instead of upper class subjects or religious or classical subject matter that pervaded previous art genres) are indicative of post impressionism, that includes Degas’ contemporaries, Van Gogh, and Cezanne, as well as the original impressionists Monet, Manet and their buddies.
But my work doesn’t really look anything like Degas’.
I do use women as subject matter, but I look for what I believe would be strong women role models for a future daughter. I believe that our culture has a deficit of depicting strong women role models and I want them to be there for my daughter if and when she is old enough to look for them. There are plenty of women for her to look to, but they are not commonly depicted in popular culture. This is part of a vicious cycle where women remain in the minority of leadership positions or few are considered cultural heroes, and so girls grow up thinking that the best option is to get married and have babies, (which is of course an option, but women should have more choices. that’s the point.) In any case, as an artist, I make the conscious decision to promote strong women role models.
This is a big enough subject that is should have its own separate blog post, so I won’t say anymore about it here.
Back to influences.
I have always cited Michelangelo & Da Vinci as huge influences, and I really love their work; especially the Pieta and the Madonna of the Rocks. I love Leonardo’s use of Chiaroscuro and the glazing techniques that combine to give depth and texture to the beautifully rendered figures. I love the way that Michelangelo poses and renders his figures. These poses are a precursor to Mannerism.
My work doesn’t look anything like these guys’ work.
I also love Rembrandt, & Rothko, Homer, Hopper, Franz Kline, Sargent, Courbet, & many many others. I love illustrators like NC Wyeth, Arthur Rackham, Leyendecker, Rockwell, Frazetta, Lee, Gorey, and many many others. My first influence was Charles Schutz. Then came my love for comic books; Spiderman, Batman, Xmen, etcmen… Maybe I have so many influences that it’s hard to discern any single one. Maybe I’ve been drawing and painting for so long that I’ve developed my own way of doing things. Maybe I’m such a crappy artist I can’t even copy my heroes very well.