Every artist’s work has a multitude of influences.
In my case, those influences have spanned not only countless artists and illustrators, but also some very special locations on both sides of the world.
Here’s a sampling.
A Dutch painter whose exquisite interior scenes captured my heart the very first time I saw them. Some say his paintings can’t help but evoke detailed stories about the characters he depicted. But when I look at his work there are no stories that clamor to be told. Instead I find my mind quieting down and, if it’s a lucky day, most of my thoughts just subside into the looking.
Evelyn de Morgan
Such deliciously other-worldly paintings by a woman who painted within the potentially stultifying constraints of Victorian society.
John William Waterhouse
A romantic classicist painting at the time of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. His sensitive and sensually evocative way of painting women in his depictions of myths and legends continues to leave me slack-jawed in wonder. He set the artistic bar very high indeed.
A Pre-Raphaelite, this artist’s mythic work has quietly inspired me for decades. I can go for months without looking at his paintings, but then when I do, I’m overwhelmed all over again by his vision.
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
The light and shade, the drama, the depth of observation of the human form. Inspirational to say the very least.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Another Pre-Raphaelite, his paintings are moodier and earthier than other brotherhood artists’ work. Perhaps it’s in that quality that I find so much inspiration.
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
I am mesmerized by his work. The delicate, refined majesty of his observations rendered in pencil and in oils continues to take my breath away.
Jan van Eyck
This is the man responsible for elevating oil painting into the mainstream. His meticulous, gem-like works remain a wonder to behold. One looks and looks, and looks some more. There is no end to it.
Japanese woodblock artists
What a shock when I first beheld these artists’ works. What a revelation when I allowed my guard to drop and let their sensibilities wash over me. Will I ever see anything the same again?
Rackham was the premier English illustrator of the Victorian and Edwardian periods. I was introduced to his work while still at art school and, in the space of a year, devoured every publication he had illustrated.
Dulac is another illustrator I discovered while at art school. He was a contemporary of Rackham, but lived and illustrated on the other side of the English Channel. His rich, sensual watercolors depicting fanciful beings coaxed me beyond what I thought possible.
Ida Rentoul Othwaithe
Othwaithe was an Australian illustrator of the late nineteenth century. I discovered her work shortly after college and was immediately drawn to the delicacy of her touch. Although it was apparent that her work was uneven in quality, when she was “on” her watercolor fairies were breathtaking. I once had the opportunity to examine at length a framed original, and as I held it in my hands, I almost lost myself in those gloriously rich colors.
The Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens
Melbourne, Australia is a sprawling city of over 3 million souls. Although there are numerous pockets of urban beauty to be found, vast stretches of the city have degraded into mind-numbing suburban wastelands. Somewhere in its history, however, a snippet of transcendental inspiration visited the city fathers, and one of the city’s greatest glories was born: the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Boasting rolling lawns, extensive water lily ponds, exquisite flower beds, exotic trees, old-world gardener’s cottages, and long, meandering paths, the gardens provided this budding artist with a world of richly textured inspiration.
Because the gardens were situated across the city and far from where I grew up, I didn’t discover them till my late teens. But what a revelation that late discovery was! During art school days I split my creative time between the art school campus, the National Gallery, and the Royal Botanic Gardens.
The Oregon Coast
Three years living in Portland, Oregon gave me plenty of opportunities to visit the coast. And I never could seem to get enough of it.
Delicious, timeless walks along sand that never seemed to end were mine to be had at any time. With tall woods and cliffs on one side and the brooding Pacific on the other, here was Gaia endlessly revealing the extraordinary mystery of movement in harmony with stillness.
The Adirondack State Park
Northern New York’s Adirondacks were so different from anything in my Australian experience that for my first 12 months of residency I literally wandered around slack-jawed in wonder. Awesome, so totally awesome…and, for an Australian, so unbelievably cold during winter.
And now, a couple of decades later, the mountains, waterways, flora, fauna, and even the extreme seasons have worked their way deep into my psyche. I will never see the world quite the same again.