Artists Who Have Had the Greatest Impact on Your Work?


Well-known member
We've posted about our "favorite" artists; but our "favorite" artists are not always the artists who have had the greatest influence on our work. I suspect at times we may not wish to admit to certain influences. John will likely claim he is his only influence. So what artists have had the biggest influence on your work... for better or worse?
Pollock, Mondrian, Rothko, Joan Mitchell, Cy Twombly, Rembrandt, Turner

Tolkien, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Shakespeare, JK Rowling

Danny Elfman, Tim Burton, etc
Last edited by a moderator:
Klee, Van Gogh, Jasper Johns, Rothko, Diebenkorn, Kandinsky, Matisse, Carlo Zinelli, Amy Sillman, Bill Traylor, children's art, John Lennon, Charles Bukowski, Elizabeth Hoffman (long-time bestfriend)... More, but that's all I can think of right now.
Pollock, Mondrian, Rothko, Joan Mitchell, Cy Twombly, Rembrandt, Turner

Tolkien, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Shakespeare, JK Rowling

Danny Elfman, Tim Burton, etc

John, I'm pleasantly surprised. I can see Rothko. I can definitely see Twombly. Maybe Turner. As a minimalist in many ways, I don't see Dickens or Shakespeare... but they may have influenced you in ways that I can't see. I love Elfman and Burton but can't say they have influenced my work.
Monet, Turner, Diebenkorn, Rothko, Kandinsky, Matisse and Pollock. Probably Monet more than anyone else.
Me, myself and I. Between us all we've seen some stuff I guess. We just need to figure out what it is.

I has no particular style or educated class. Myself seems confused, and if you ask me, he just refers to the others.
I would like to say JMW Turner, Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Jackson Pollock, Richard Diebenkorn, and Paul Klee, but in truth it would Ed Mel, Frank Webb, Ian Roberts, Edgar Whitney, John Lovett, Rex Brandt, and Tony Couch.
I'm easily influenced so about 99% of art I've seen, by some artists I've never even heard of or remember. However, Da Vinci and Michelango were my most influential.
Inevitably, all of us will have some influence from some of all those famous names in art. But I remain at a bit of a loss about answering the question this thread poses, because while, like everyone else, I have my favorites among the great names, in the end they seem not to have had much influence on my own way of working at all.

No, in the end, the ones who influenced me most are all obscure bloggers in the "daily painting" movement, i.e. artists who commit to regularly making small, quick paintings. And even there, I ended up doing my own thing, to some extent because I couldn't work out how they went about doing their paintings!

I think my single biggest influence turned out to be a guy named Jeff Mahorney, whose blog I stumbled onto years ago. He called it "120 paintings," based on advice he once read: you need to make 120 bad paintings before you'll start making good ones. He decided to follow this advice and teach himself to paint, and rather bravely, he posted every single one of his attempts. Predictably, the first ones sucked like you cannot believe. But 120 paintings later, and he had developed a quite rich, attractive impressionism, and was actually selling most of what he painted too.

I found his work an inspiration, but once again, my own work ended up looking very, very different. I never managed to develop his rich sense of color (to this day, I have no idea how to precisely match the colors I mix with the ones I see, and I find myself increasingly enamored of monochrome painting), or his confident brush work. And alas, I sell a piece only once in a blue moon, and what market I did have was pretty much finished off by Covid.

Still, on his blog I got better advice on painting than I ever got anywhere else, from any professional teacher or book. Rather ironically, he eventually gave up painting, while I battle on, confident that the great masterpiece is just around the corner. :)
Brian, yes, I heard that too about making at least 100-200 paintings before you can really start to settle into what your paintings will begin to look like. I highly agree with that. I think after my first 150 I started to see it, but then again after 300-400 something new started to develop, and then again at 600. I am still surprising myself at over 1000. I have to just start accepting what is, is.
OK... I finally have time to put forth my 2-cents as to which artists I consciously know to have had the largest impact on my work.



The first artists who had a major impact on me... who I might actually credit with my first serious thoughts of wanting to be an artist... were the various comic book illustrators... especially those who illustrated the superheroes of DC and Marvel as well as MAD Magazine. I might attribute my passion for drawing the human figure... for bright, saturated colors... for dramatic costumes... for the emphasis on line and flat areas of color, etc... to these artists. Years later I recognized the common elements between the superhuman gods and goddesses of artists like Michelangelo, Raphael, Tintoretto, Veronese, and Rubens and these comic superheroes.

Salvador Dali was the first artist that I bought a book on... a rather expensive one at that. Nevertheless, he had no real lasting impact on my work. The first artist after the comic book illustrators that I would credit as having a lasting impact is Micheangelo.


When I entered art school I was already obsessed with drawing the human figure. At the time... perhaps coming from the comic superheroes... I was drawing male figures far more often than female. While I undoubtedly admired the David and the Pieta, I was far more inspired by the paintings and the drawings. I probably learned as much from repeatedly studying and copying Michelangelo's drawings (as well as Raphael's, Leonardo's, Rubens' and others) as I did from an entire year of life drawing.

Rubens remains my favorite artist and Vermeer would not fall far behind... but being honest with myself, I found their abilities far above anything I might ever aspire to and can't really say they had a great impact on me. Botticelli, on the other hand, has remained a continual influence.


I was inspired by the movement and gestures of his figures... the linearity of his work, his embrace of decorative elements and patterns, and the manner in which he rendered form that is somewhat related to the manner of rendering with pastel. Primavera remains my single favorite painting.

William Blake inspired me on many levels. As an unabashed bibliophile, I admire Blake as one of the greatest poets... as well as an artist who was able to master both the visual & literary arts. Again, I was inspired by his emphasis on line. I also love his quirky compositions and expressive distortions of the figure. I was especially inspired by the fact that Blake was inspired himself by sources that were unusual at the time: medieval sculpture, tomb carvings, tapestries & embroidery, etc... He was also a model for an artist who boldly chose to work in media that were dismissed as "minor" at the time as opposed to the dominant oil paint.



Degas was an equal source of inspiration in terms of media. Arguably, he was the greatest of the Impressionists along with Money and yet had little interest in landscape. His idols were Raphael and Ingres, and he aspired to become the next great narrative painter ala Rubens and Delacroix... but he recognized that his idea of narrative painting did not speak to the time. He sought to find where in Paris of the fin de siecle he might find imagery related to the figures in motion of his favorite art... and he found this in the cabarets, the ballet, and the private bedrooms. Degas led me to think of an art that spoke to both the past and the present.



Bonnard may be the 20th Century artist who has had the biggest influence on me. His daring use of saturated color and his emphasis upon pattern and decorative elements are undoubted inspirations. But I also think of Bonnard in connection with a quote by Matisse. Matisse argued that in contrast to the German Expressionists he saw no element of his paintings as subordinate to the main subject. The "Expression" came from the painting as a whole. The background was just as important as the figure. I truly saw this in Bonnard where his figures often melt into the whole tapestry of paint and color.

10. DanceDark.650.jpg

Alphonse Mucha & Gustav Klimt are both artists who I discovered on my own. In art school, I took two years of intensive study of Western Art History... but was never introduced to either artist. This may have made my discovery all the more influential. But then we also have two artists enamored of the female form, pattern & decorative elements, and linearity. With Mucha, there was also the fact that he achieved an art of such lasting merit outside of painting.


Edvard Munch came off the curvilinear elements of art nouveau and pointed toward Expressionism... especially that of the Germans... which would be the next major influence in my art.


I literally kept the great volume on Max Beckmann's Retrospective with me at all times for quite a few years... as if it were a Holy Bible. Again, there is an emphasis on line and flat saturated color. I also admired the muscular and sculptural figures. I also admire the stage-like composition... in which the figures fit within a stage set... not unlike the paintings of Rogier van der Weyden, whose work I was also looking at a good deal at the time:


As I returned to the figure after 5 years of abstract collage, I found myself looking a good deal at non-Western art... especially Japanese Ukiyo-e prints and Persian book illuminations:

Kitagawa Utamaro-two.440.jpg

My two closest friends during art school and after, were Asian (Chinese & Korean). We spent a good deal of time when we visited any art museum, checking out the Ukiyo-e prints. Once again, we have linearity, flat areas of color, and patterns. I was also influenced by the use of areas of black to lead the eye around the image. And who can't see the links with comic books?

At the same time that I began looking at Ukiyo-e prints a great deal once again, I also began exploring Persian illuminated manuscripts.


And yet once again, I am drawn to an art in which there is an emphasis on line, saturated color, pattern and decorative elements. It is quite likely that my use of gold leaf first came from these works as well as paintings from the early Italian Renaissance. I should also note that my abandonment of Western linear perspective is something inspired by the examples of both Persian and Japanese art.

There are a good many Contemporary artists whose work I greatly admire... but I can't say any have had as much of an influence upon me as any of the artists I already cited. In most cases, their work builds upon many of the same sources as I am looking at already.

As for artists outside of the visual arts who have had a large influence? I would say J.S. Bach, Mozart, The Beatles, Miles Davis, The Rolling Stones, Dante, Baudelaire, J.L. Borges, Kafka, Poe, Rilke, Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Walter Pater, etc...