Your Major Artistic Influences?


Well-known member
OK... this question shows up from time to time on probably every Art forum... but it never hurts to ask again. What/Who are the major influences on your Art? These may be artists who have had a huge impact on your Art... but it could include other influences: books, films, teachers, etc...


Ikenaga Yasunari... Japanese painter and one of the biggest influences on me from living artists.
My list of influences grows ever longer, and it's becoming a problem. Some years ago I showed some of my pictures to a gallery owner. He said they were not badly painted, but, and I quote, I "have no voice." Stylistically they were all over the place. He was right too: I have yet to find any real style or subject of my own. Every time I see work I like I think, wow, that's great stuff, I have to try it out. And so I never get to do anything that's uniquely me.
Like Brian, my list is also alarmingly long. In my case, perhaps it indicates a lack of focus. I think, though that there must be a common element in their work that has moved me to do similar stuff; perhaps their concern with what I think can be called materiality. Anyway here is a (partial) list of names in no particular order: Isamu Noguchi, Antoni Tapies, Antony Gormley, Eduardo Paolozzi, Jasper Johns, Hans Coper, Barnett Newman, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Constantin Brancusi, Igor Mitoraj.
My list of influences grows ever longer, and it's becoming a problem. Some years ago I showed some of my pictures to a gallery owner. He said they were not badly painted, but, and I quote, I "have no voice." Stylistically they were all over the place. He was right too: I have yet to find any real style or subject of my own. Every time I see work I like I think, wow, that's great stuff, I have to try it out. And so I never get to do anything that's uniquely me.
Brian, please do not listen to that one gallery owner. That is one guy with one very skewed opinion. He couldn't SEE that you have a voice in your HAND. It doesn't matter what subject matter you choose to paint, it's still in your voice. Style and voice are two different things as well. You can paint an abstract "style" or something that more of a realism style. It wouldn't matter. It comes from you. I've seen your landscape scenes. I've seen your serial killer portraits. I see your hand there in both. You have a very stylized voice. Don't listen to that guy. Anyone can own a gallery. I ran one myself too some years ago. It's a matter of renting a storefront and picking out artists you like to put on the walls.
My list remains pretty consistent. I feel like it might be boring now that I've mentioned them all before. Paul Klee and van Gogh are at the roots of my influences, and maybe Picasso too. Later, it was Jasper Johns, Eva Hesse, Motherwell, and Diebenkorn. In the last twenty years, I got very into Outsiders like Traylor and Carlo Zinelli. I then started following the work of Rita Ackermann. And in more recent years, it's been Amy Sillman and Lisa Sanditz. I'm into Dana Schutz too, but funny enough, she's been more of an influence than I actually "love" her work. I like her ideas and patterns.

Oh, and I have to mention a few other newer-ish influences:

James Kerry Marshall
Raffi Kalenderian
Terek Sebastian Alshamma
Jennifer Packer

Let me know if I should provide links! ;)
Zillions from the paleolithic to now. But mostly that period in the West from 1840 - 1950 and very much Zen/Ch'an painting and prints from Japan.
My mother was the first one to recognize my artistic ability... or at least my interest in Art. She encouraged me with all sorts of drawing and painting and crafts materials from the earliest that I can remember.

I first seriously considered the possibility of being an Artist in response to the comic books that I collected and read so avidly. I remember telling a guidance counselor early on that my goal was to be a comic book illustrator. o_O Admittedly, it was through comic books that I first developed a love of drawing the human figure... initially the male figure... superheroes like Batman, Spiderman, Iron Man, the Hulk, etc... It was also through comics that I developed a love of saturated color and graphic line. The art and fantastic narratives of comics still fuel my Art... sometimes to an obvious extent... more often not.

There is no way I can downplay the impact of books and literature on my artistic development. I was obsessively reading since my first years in grade school. The first books I recall falling in love with were Richard Scarry's.


I would obsessively look over all the details in his illustrated books for hours. In a way, I suspect they prepared me for the equally excessively detailed paintings of Bosch and Brueghel as well as Van Eyck.

As a reader, I couldn't get enough of fantastic narratives such as Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, The Arabian Nights... and eventually those of Edgar Allen Poe, Theophile Gautier, and J.L. Borges which all fueled my feverish imagination. Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal had a huge impact leading to not only my appreciation of poetry... but also my approach to painting. I began to think of painting as a poetic endeavor in the sense of paying an obsessive or even compulsive degree of attention to each and every element... each and every line... searching for the "perfect" color... just as the lyric poet weighed each and every word.

As an unabashed bibliophile, it should come as no surprise that there were many illustrators who have been and/or remain influential.
Among these, I would cite Arthur Rackham...


Gustave Dore, Edmund Dulac, Maurice Sendak, Richard Gorey...


... Asaf Hanuka, Claude Mirande, Gennady Spirin, Echo Chernik, Jean-Pierre Gibrat, Aubrey Beardsley, Marcos Chin, Tomer Hanuka, Victo Ngai, Andrew Tarusov, Leonard Baskin, M.C. Escher, Harry Clark, and Kelly Beeman.

It wasn't until my late teens that I began collecting books on "serious" artists... engaging in a self-directed study of art history. The first artist whose work I purchased in a big "coffee table book" was Salvador Dali... but shortly after, I became fixated on artists of the Northern Renaissance: Albrecht Dürer, Van Eyck, Van der Weyden, Bosch & Breughel, etc...

When I started Art School I was required to take 2 years of in-depth study of World Art History. I became fascinated with architecture and medieval art... I absolutely loved the illuminated manuscripts which undoubtedly influenced my passion for patterns. As we began to explore the art of the Italian Renaissance and the Baroque I could not help but recognize a similarity between the Superhuman Greco-Roman gods and goddesses portrayed in dynamic poses wearing brilliantly colored draperies, and the superheroes of the comic books... also seen in dramatic poses wearing brilliantly colored costumes. At this time... coming upon Titian and Rubens... as well as several artists whose work I stumbled upon myself (Mucha, Klimt, Schiele, Rodin, etc...) I began drawing the female nude far more often. This came at the same time that I was exposed to the female nude frequently in life drawing courses.

Along with Mucha, Schiele, Klimt, and Rodin there were several other artists whose work I discovered on my own including Edvard Munch, Paul Klee, Pierre Bonnard, Max Beckmann, and many Japanese and Persian/Islamic artists... all of whom have remained among the most influential upon my work. For years, I carried books on their work around with me everywhere. I still have large volumes of their work sitting on my computer desk or rolling workbench... right next to my work area.

And then there's Degas. If forced to name a single Modern artist whose work I most admire... and that has had the largest impact on my work... I'd probably be torn between naming Bonnard or Beckmann... but I can't forget Degas. On the most obvious level, he was the artist who gave me permission to abandon oil paint on canvas and focus on pastels on paper. Before Degas, artists such as Etienne Liotard, Rosalba Carriera, Jean Siméon Chardin , and François Boucher...


... simply approached pastels as a new and more rapid media for painting. "Pastel Paintings" were blended to create the illusion of form with soft edges. They were frequently no less detailed than oil paintings and seldom showed the artist's touch in terms of gestural lines and marks. For this, you had to look to pastel and chalk drawings:


Degas opened up a whole new approach to pastel. He spoke of how the media married the speed and the mark-making of drawing with the color of painting... and this showed in his work...


Degas freely combined multiple media in his paintings... using both tempera or gouache along with pastel...


... Beyond these approaches to "painting", Degas inspired me with his use of colored underpainting or priming. While the other Impressionists all worked on canvases primed with white, Degas cited the Venetian painters such as Titian and Veronese who often worked on canvases primed with red or green. This technique allowed the pastel colors to "jump" but also unified the painting as a whole as little areas of this underpainting showed through across the whole of the surface.

Finally, I was truly inspired by the rough... almost "weathered" surfaces of Degas' late pastels that recalled (to my mind) the surfaces of old frescoes.


Munch, Bonnard, Beckmann, Klee, Klimt, Schiele, Kirchner. Joseph Cornell (!), George Tooker, Matisse, and many other Modernists were quite inspirational to me.

I absolutely love the weathered and fresco-like surfaces of many of Balthus' paintings...

Balthus__ (40).sm.700.jpg

Over the years I came to appreciate and even admire many of the paintings by the Abstract Expressionists... but with the exception of an attention to their use of color or maybe the surface handling of paint, they never really had any impact on my work. There were realists of the period whose work I greatly admired and looked at repeatedly... including Andrew Wyeth, Giorgio Morandi, Balthus, Avigdor Arikha, Antonio Lopez-Garcia, and Lucian Freud. Pop Art intrigued me in terms of the idea of a marriage of "fine art" and popular culture... but I can't say I have had any lasting love for any specific Pop Artists.

Among the "contemporary" artists whose work I follow I would include:

Yasunari Ikenaga (posted above), Kaethe Butcher, Michael Bergt...


... Walton Ford...

Walton Ford (6).jpg

...Aneka Ingold, Leonard Koscianski...


... Robert Kushner, Daniel Maidman, Jim Peters...

Jim Peters (45).jpg

... Chie Yoshii, Michael Bastow, Bo Bartlett...


... Daniel Galieote, Stelios Faitakis, Handiedan, James Jean, Sarah Joncas, Suzy Smith, Yoshitako Amano, Enoki Toshiyuki, Masaaki Sasamoto, Senju Horimatsu, Will Cotton, etc...

And of course, there are those single works that have a lasting impact. I think three such artworks that I would immediately cite all come from the Early Italian Renaissance:


Surprisingly, two have the same theme: The Annunciation. The first (above) being by Fra Angelico...

... The second is by Simone Martini.


For as long as I can remember... if I were forced the name a single favorite painting, it would be Botticelli's Primavera.
Last edited:
Mine would be John Stobart. Whenever I feel sad or don't want to paint. I watch one of his painting shows that was on PBS. "Worldscapes" I bought the DVD set and his books. He started the Stobart Foundation to help artists after they leave school and get started.
For my upcoming birthday, I bought more of his books about his work and the booklets they published at his gallery showing over the years.

St. Luke, you have your story well-documented. Your biographer will be well-informed one day, and you will save them a lot of work! ;) I am envious of your path to art. I wish I had some kind of encouragement as you did along the way: parents, guardians, teachers, etc. I also wish I was more well-read, especially early on, but I was a late bloomer as I've probably mentioned many times before.

I missed so much school (grammar school) growing up, that I fell way behind and really couldn't read well. It was more than embarrassing. My family moved like every six months or something and sometimes didn't even bother to enroll me in schools. It was very neglectful, but that's just one of many dysfunctional things they did/didn't do.

By the time they kind of settled in one place, I started ditching school--literally so I didn't have to read aloud when called on--and would hang out at the public library where there was a librarian who was helping me to read better. She started me with those kindergarten books and we moved up pretty quickly through Dr. Suess and to young adult genres, and finally, she knew I'd be interested in the Beat writers. That was by the time I was fourteen or so.

As for wanting to be an artist, I think I always wanted that, but I didn't consider it like a "career" until I was sixteen when I walked into a museum and it was also the year I sold a painting at a hair salon for a few dollars. I was looking at art on the walls at doctor's offices when I was five and six, waiting for my mom (psychiatrist's offices), and would stare at abstract paintings wondering how to paint something like it. Later I learned they were mostly paintings by Jenkins and Kandinski. It got me very interested in abstract art.

But I always drew pictures and was making little books on my own, mostly for my mom. I used Scotch tape and pencil and crayons. I apparently made them when I was five. Here is one I don't even remember making:


I started painting with egg tempera, watercolors, and colored pencils on illustration boards at first. I didn't ever get into acrylics, and didn't "discover" oils until I met a guy when I was about twenty who let me use everything in his studio because he just had that kind of wherewithal and liked me a whole bunch. I ended up moving in with him for a while and fell in love with oil painting.

But I didn't have any encouragement from anyone; it was the opposite. I think about that guy I lived with and even he said he hated my art. Ha ha ha. My parents always told me I would amount to nothing because I was always a piece of shit. They thought everything I did: art, music, writing, was all the endeavors of a bum. I left home at fifteen, so I didn't have to hear too much of that after that unless I visited them or we talked on the phone, etc. They never came to a show or a concert, and never read anything I wrote.

I have NO idea where the drive comes from. No idea where the "confidence" comes from because I don't feel like I have any. I think I just don't know how to do anything else. I don't have a degree, just a GED and a few community college classes, which I only did since I was forty-something. I don't think anyone would hire me anywhere, seriously. I was a pro drummer for many years, and I made some money that way, but I can't play anymore.

I demand a lot of money for my art, but that's only because I can't charge less after some people have paid a certain price for it. I can't go backward. So I have to wait in between sales, but that's fine. I don't really care. To me, it's the same difference.

My work is not for everyone, and I know that. I used to be able to make more realism and illustration-type stuff, but it makes me unhappy, so I don't do that anymore. When I was forced to do that stuff, I was capable, even though it does not come naturally to me and I really do have to put in a lot of effort. I'm not very skilled as a draftsperson. But that doesn't really bother me. I'd rather improve my crafting skills for the work I want to produce. A lot of that involves ideas too, and tapping into my authentic imagination and such.

I did have one teacher when I tried to go to high school for a minute. It was a "continuation" high school if you know what that is. She taught a few subjects and one was art. I think the others were Social Sciences, Government, etc. She mostly gave me credits as long as I'd sit there and draw between 8am-12:30pm. I couldn't stay long at that school because I worked two jobs to pay rent (I lived on my own), and I wasn't able to do everything at once, and gig too. I never graduated, so I later took the GED.

But she was very encouraging. She made me feel like I had "something." She encouraged everyone there, but I still felt special in her eyes. She was an artist in a gallery, so it meant something that she liked my art. Having a year (on and off) of that was helpful for me. That was one encouraging person I owe a lot to.

So that's my basic story. ;)
Last edited:
Arty... I suspect the "grass is always greener" applies to all of our artistic journeys. My mother encouraged my artistic efforts as a child, but unfortunately, she died when I was young. Her passing undoubtedly impacted my obsession with reading and drawing as I became somewhat introverted for a while. My father had little understanding of any of the arts. He had dropped out of school in the 8th grade to work on a farm. We made almost yearly vacation trips visiting all sorts of natural "wonders": Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, the Appalachians, Mammoth Cave, the Badlands, etc... but my Dad avoided any cities (except Cleveland, which we visited for yearly Indians games). I never visited any art museum until I was 17 or 18. I still remember the shock... the feeling of being blown away by the theatrical scale of some paintings.

I took Art classes throughout my school years, but no one really exposed me to the techniques or methods of painting (years later, I discovered that my Dad had been something of an amateur painter, painting images of deer and other wildlife in oils). Honestly, I initially hated painting because it lacked the ability (in my hands) to render the sort of details I could achieve in pencil and pen. It was only in my late teens that I began to explore acrylics, tempera, and finally oils. It wasn't until my second year in art school... when I was required by an assignment in Painting 2... to complete a painting that was no smaller than 48" square, that I discovered working large... and I never looked back. The teacher of the class became my mentor and my advisor after I had declared a Major in Painting.

I was definitely lucky in that my Art School imposed the most rigorous requirements in the studies of Art History. I was able to delve even deeper into Art History through independent "honors" classes (and through work as an assistant to one of the art history professors as part of my Work Study. I was able to do this in part because I was able to breeze through the equally rigorous Literature Class requirements due to my years of obsessive reading.

I definitely envy your access or exposure to art galleries... but I am able to paint/create as I wish because of my steady income. On the other hand, teaching has become increasingly exhausting. I understand your maintaining a "high" price for your art. I refuse to sell my work for cheap due to the intense labor involved. I also took the advice of a friend who was very successful as a graphic designer. He pointed out that the wealthy patrons he sold his work to spent more on a couch or end table than most artists dared to charge for their paintings... and he was having none of it.
Among mine would be Arthur Rackham:


William Morris:


Charles Renee Mackintosh:


"Great Piece of Turf" by Albrecht Dürer, which I could stare at for hours:


TIm Wootton, who's an artist in the north of Scotland and does wonderful bird paintings, starting off with field sketches and finishing off in his studio (which is exactly how I'd like to work). I have a print of the first picture, a roller, on my bedroom wall.



Celtic illuminated manuscripts - if you get a chance to see the Book of Kells in Dublin, please do:


And probably a lot of others I'll think of later.
Rackham? Definitely. There is something in his work that reminds me of the linear nature of Japanese/Chinese ink paintings as well as Dürer. William Morris? Yes! Especially the Kelmscott Chaucer:


And Dürer? One of the first among the old masters who suggested something of a link between the graphic art of comic books that I had been weaned on, and "serious" fine art.

And most assuredly the "Book of Kells"... one of the masterworks of "book arts".