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Friday, 26 June 2015

Favourite Artists


Blog 25

When I wrote last week’s blog about Antoni Gaudí, I started thinking about the artists that have influenced me with regard to my painting style. A couple of names came to my mind, not all of them were famous artists. Some influences were more obvious than others.

All of my teachers have influenced me, along with my painting buddies. Being with them on painting trips and seeing first hand how they work certainly has an effect on my painting style. The agreement on a painting location can create a mutual influence. We look for a place that excites all of us. Sometimes, a choice might suddenly provide an image you would have missed on your own. I enjoy looking at the focus each of us picked for their painting. Sometimes, the the similarities are astonishing, other times everyone picked a different part of the scene in front of us. While witnessing each other’s struggles and successes as well as during the day’s reflection, you get new ideas and insights.

There are many examples in art history where painters have influenced each other to help each other grow. However, I don’t want to talk about my contemporaries today but about the masters who have inspired me. I have already mentioned Frida Kahlo and Emily Carr in one of my May posts. This time I am looking at the four other painters who have inspired me.

Waterlilies,  acrylic on canvas, 18" x 24"
First of all there is Claude Monet. I love the light and colours in his paintings. I admire that he painted the same subject over and over again to study the change in appearance at different times of the day and season. This is something that fascinates me whenever we return to Kamouraska. No matter how often I paint a certain scene, it always looks different due to the quickly changing light and the tides.

However, when I took a workshop on his way of painting, I realized that I did not enjoy his technique at all. I gained immense respect for his use of small, thin, yet visible brush strokes which give the illusion of movement, but had a hard time staying patient while using the short brush strokes. It was hard to put the colours next to each other without blending them.

Ottawa Valley, acrylic, 16|" x 20"
Then there is Vincent van Gogh. I just love his bright colours and the wild movement in his paintings. His strong brushstrokes let you feel the energy and passion van Gogh put into his paintings.You can feel the urge he had to express himself through his art. This is an energy I would like to put into my paintings because this energy is what the viewer feels when he looks at the finished painting.

The Front, acrylic on canvas, 22" x 28"
When I was introduced to Joseph Mallord William Turner, the “painter of light”, I was captivated by the luminosity of his skies. Since then the design of my skies became very important to me. I particularly enjoy his technique of painting layers over layers with very loose brush strokes creating lots of movement. His technique is especially useful whenever I only have short periods of painting time

The Red Tree, acrylic on board, 8" x 10"
Last but not least, there is Tom Thomson. When I paint outside with my painting buddy Janis, it takes me a lot longer than her to capture a scene. This is due to our different temperaments and painting styles. What I learned during a Tom Thomson workshop is that he used his time on site to capture the essence of the scene with quick thick
strokes. He did not aim for a finished painting. If he liked a certain scene, he went back to his studio and painted it on a larger canvas. This was a big revelation for me, one I have to remember constantly. It is easy to forget sticking to the essence when you are confronted with an overload of impressions. I love the energy that is captured especially in his sketches with the help of bright colours, and thick brush strokes which express movement.

Even though the four painters have different painting styles, they all managed successfully to capture the essence of a scene and the energy of the moment. They completely immersed themselves in the process of painting so that you can feel the physical sensation they felt when they painted their pieces. This is something I aim for: to be fully in the moment, to simplify a scene to keep the focus on the things that are important. An image is so much more powerful when you keep the big picture in mind by eliminating the small and unimportant stuff.

I am always open to learn something new. Incorporating new techniques or materials into my art helps me to grow and hopefully keeps my art from growing stale. It is a life-long process and I am excited about new possibilities and challenges.

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