influence

31/01/2011

People who come to my shows often compare my work to that of other (much more well-known) painters. This can sometimes be annoying, but in my more generous moments I accept that it helps them as observers to place my work into a familiar context, one that is already assimilated into their cultural landscape. What can be annoying about it is that it keeps them from working very hard.

talk to me

The painters I am most often compared to are Georgia O’Keefe; René Magritte; Frida Kahlo (the fruity bits); occasionally Dali (nose-crinkle); and once, oddly, di Chirico.

All of these are certainly influential painters whose work I have studied and returned to again and again (except Dali, whose mastery I respect but whose later self-referential hubris I find mildly repellent). No artist works in a vacuum—we are all a small moment in the long human history of reinterpreting the world through visual expression. When I say “influence” I don’t mean that artists try to copy the painters they most admire, but rather they possess a shared perception that emerges in their work.

Other painters I would cite as influences include Jan Vermeer and Edward Hopper, masters of light; Raphael; Goya; Caravaggio; and the great Giuseppe Arcimboldo.

self-portrait, Archimboldo

Every artist I know has, in addition, influences particular to their own individual lives: almost every single one can name an art teacher who fanned the spark early and made it burn. Personally I would have to include my mother, who always brought paper home from work for us to draw on; my father, who taught me shadow and light; my sisters, with whom I would play endless games of “I Vote For”*, and a book my parents had called something like The Great Paintings, which we pored over for hours.

The 4 Seasons

Other influences: light coming through a window onto just-picked tomatoes;

ma cuisine ©

a sky full of blundering clouds;

trees set on fire by the sunset;

the rock formations and ancient dolmens of this area;

things I read and study, in particular mythology and anthropology;

outer and inner space.

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*I Vote For was a game we invented where each kid makes a list of things to draw, then all the players draw them in turn. At the end of each drawing we voted for the one we liked best. OK a bit competitive but it did make you strive.

detail, Autumn Sky ©

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