In my previous blog post about writing a solid artist statement, I mentioned an artist who I visited at an art gallery who couldn’t even name a single other artist.

She’s not going to make it. No, I’m not being mean. I don’t wish her ill will.

I’m just being realistic.

You should know your influences and you should pay attribute to them. In my case, there’s way, way too many to list.

But I can narrow it down to my top three and I could tell you exactly how they influenced me.

John William Waterhouse

Waterhouse was an English painter who initially came from an “academic” background, then switched mid-career to a Pre-Raphaelite style. I call myself a Romantic (19th century definition, not the false definition that everyone uses today). The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood or simply the Pre-Raphaelites were a subset of Romanticism.

Waterhouse heavily influenced today’s fantasy. You’ll see him paint characters that if you RPG, watch anime, or play fantasy video games, you’ll immediately recognize.

He also had a phenomenal sense of life. His paintings looked alive, and if you stare at his paintings, you can feel what his characters felt.

His color schemes are also beautiful. However, his schemes are a bit more subdued and “realistic” than mine. As much as I appreciate his color schemes, he’s not where I got my color influence from.

Today, I technically do “pop art.” Pop art and high art are not the same thing. Waterhouse is high art. As my skill sets progress, I’ll eventually head more into a Pre-Raphaelite direction. I already know this so going forward decades, my paintings will look more and more like Waterhouse, except with my own feel.

Alphonse Mucha

It’s funny. I see myself more as Mucha.

We got so much in common.

He started off more “pop art” although technically, “commercial art.” He painted beautiful women in the popular style of the day – Art Nouveau.

Yes, I actually love Art Nouveau. I’m heavily influenced by that style.

You’ll see it in my models’ lines and especially in their hair. I love the natural, free-flowing hair that Mucha and other artists of his genre painted.

I love his use of colors too. Very seasonal. You’ll see his color patterns can be broken up into summer, spring, fall, and winter. But especially warmer months.

And Mucha loved women. You’ll see his women referred to as “Mucha Girls.” Well, my girls are “Roman Riva Girls” and I currently have five (in chronological order) – Allie, Melisa, Sophia, Diana, and Katie.

Allie’s a blonde. Melisa, Sophia, and Diana have black hair. Katie has brown hair but often dyes it red. In some ways, Katie reminds me of a young Tori Amos.

Anyways, unfortunately for Mucha, he’s known for his original style, the style that made him money. He eventually became a high artist and painted Slavic Nationalistic paintings. Keep in mind the time period. There were folks out there who saw the Slavs as “lesser peoples,” including one famous guy with a funny mustache who will rise to power a few decades later.

So Mucha is historically important for two reasons – 1. he’s in my not so humble opinion the best of the Art Nouveau artists, and 2. his style evolved into high art as a Slavic Nationalist.

Now let’s please keep this civil. I’m talking about history and don’t want to devolve into a political discussion. I strongly feel it’s important to study art history if you take yourself seriously as an artist, and this is all part of art history.

Frank Frazetta

If you’re using labels, you’ll have some difficulty labeling Frazetta.

Yes, technically he’s pop art. But he’s one of the rare pop artists who had the skills of a high artist. I’ll put Frazetta’s paintings alongside just about any painting in the Louvre or the Prado. Yes, I’m serious.

He’s probably the only pop artist I can say that about with a straight face.

Frazetta painted everything from pulp fiction covers to movie posters. You know many of his subjects. Conan. Vampirella.

In fact, I randomly bought a Vampirella comic from the local comic book shop last week. I had no idea that Frazetta was the first artist to paint her.

Frazetta heavily influenced the artists who would go on to do the art for Dungeons and Dragons, of which I got a lot of my artistic influence from. No, not the modern D&D. The old stuff. The stuff that was still controversial, raw, and uncensored. The best stuff.

Now, D&D feels politically correct. Or worse – corporate.

That’s why sometimes you gotta go back. I loved how Frazetta painted. I love everything about his style.

You can tell that he loved women. He outshone his peers when it came to painting women. It seems like so many people after him are cheap ripoffs. Like the slew of bad sword and sorcery movies that came after the surprise hit Conan the Barbarian (early 80s). Oh, speaking of which, the movie was heavily inspired by Frazetta’s artwork.

I have yet to make the pilgrimage to the main Frazetta Art Museum in Pennsylvania but it’s high on my bucket list.

If you’re an artist

That’s only my top three. I’ve been inspired by countless artists, and you’ll hear me talk about them a lot on this blog.

I love giving credit to my inspirations. I think it’s the honorable thing to do.

So who are your favorites? And have you ever thought of why you like them?


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[…] can look at my three favorite artists and it will all make sense. I love a lot of artists! But Waterhouse, Mucha, and Frazetta influenced […]

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[…] My top 3 artists are in order – Waterhouse, Mucha, and Frazetta. I believe Michelangelo is the hands down greatest artist ever. However, I’m not directly influenced by his works. Of course, I’m influenced by artists who were influenced by him. So indirectly, for sure. […]

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