I’ve said awhile back that if you can’t name 10 artists, you’re a hobbyist, not an artist.
I don’t mean that as an insult. I’m just very frank about art.
An artist needs to know art history and simply by knowing art history, the artist will know artists. And of course, he’ll know his influences.
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.
But he’s not my favorite. Favorites imply personal taste. Which is great. You are entitled to your own tastes and if they conflict with anyone else’s, more power to you.
You don’t have to impress other people by picking your favorites that other people might find cool. That’s being untrue to yourself. And if you’re untrue to yourself, you’re untrue to your art.
So I’m very adamant about picking what you like. Not what other people like.
After all, it’s these artists who will directly influence your style. And I strongly believe in giving credit where it’s due.
I remember in high school, when asked favorite bands, you’ll hear people try to impress you by naming bands they think you’d like. That’s dishonest, and also may backfire.
I was that asshole who said, “oh really? What’s your favorite album by such and such artist?”
To which they’d turn red.
If you’re an artist, the same concept applies. If anyone asked me why I like so and so, I’ve already written the article. Feel free to do the same. Note your favorite artists. Write up why you like so and so. Don’t be afraid to include even the most minor details because if they matter to you, then those details matter!
Edward Robert Hughes
Below is Midsummer Eve, a fantasy piece where a human lady encounters the world of fairies. The way she appears in this piece insinuates that she’s already aware of their world and is a welcomed visitor.
My wife actually discovered Hughes before I did. She bought a t-shirt with this very painting.
Afterwards, we noticed his works on a lot of postcards.
Like Waterhouse, Hughes significantly inspired 20th century fantasy. I’ve especially found his works on postcards in “hippie” stores, where I buy my soaps.
Edward Robert Hughes (1851-1914) was an English artist, working in mostly watercolors but also some oils. His style tiptoed between the Preraphaelites and Aestheticism, both styles I’m heavily influenced by.
His uncle was Arthur Hughes, one of the first generation Preraphaelites.
I absolutely adore his usage of greens and blues, and wish I can eventually have the same command of those two colors. The more the artist gets into art, the more he struggles getting the perfect colors. It’s just like guitarists with tone. A guitarist who to everyone else is absolutely amazing, will confess that he struggles to get the perfect guitar tone.
I also love this themes. You’ll see my themes eventually overlap with his. I’d love to paint Valkyries, of whom I have yet to paint. And of course, I’d love to do my own version of Midsummer Eve. It’s such an intoxicatingly fascinating painting.
Note his use of color in this one. It’s almost dualchromatic. Besides the subject (the Valkyrie), the rest of the painting is almost exclusively blue or green. Even the winged horse she rides on.
This technique really makes the subject “pop.” She stands out amongst a dualchromatic background.
This is a technique I’ll often use. Paint plenty of detail in the background. But really limit the colors. It’s the subject that you want to stand out.
Even the pose itself. I’ve had Allie pose in a similar fashion in my painting Selene Gazes Upon Endymion.
This is what I’m getting at when I say “steal.” Learn all you can about art. Then steal.
But if you’re like me, give credit where it’s due. I’m very open about who I steal from. And I’ve stolen a lot from Edward Robert Hughes.
Bouguereau (1825-1905) lived long enough to see his style of paintings fall out of style in favor of avant-garde garbage. I don’t pull punches. I hate that shit.
I like art, and just like making a bunch of noise isn’t music, throwing paint on a canvas isn’t art.
Bouguereau had talent. Immense amounts of talent.
His painting Bather (1870) directly influenced me and inspired me to have my models pose in similar fashion, except directly in water.
Shortly after his lifetime, the art community mocked his style as outdated. But today, his paintings go for millions as apparently, at least some people started having good taste again.
He often painted nymphs and satyrs, two creatures I’ll eventually incorporate into my paintings.
I love how softly he painted women. His women are so feminine. So beautiful. So womanly.
Also note the use of the S-curve. These two paintings really use it well.
Stylistically, Bouguereau was a French academic painter. He painted mostly mythological themes and often with Classical influences.
His shadowings on the women were perfect but you could tell that they weren’t necessarily painted with the backgrounds.
Does that matter?
To me? No.
I of course have the girls model in my house (used to be a tiny ass apartment until a few years ago). Then I paint them in an often imaginary setting. I don’t even try to make it look realistic. I go for straight aesthetics. To me, aesthetics matter above all else and I don’t compromise that.
If I had a time machine and could speak French, Bouguereau and I’d more than likely agree. His painting The Wave (below) is almost comically obvious in this regard.
The model literally sits in the water without a drop of water on her. How does she do that? Who cares? Looks absolutely gorgeous.
That’s what I’m getting at. Aesthetics above all else.
That’s a big part of my art philosophy. I’m not a realist.
I value aesthetics. I paint beauty for the sake of beauty.
Occasionally, I’ll work some symbolism into my paintings. But if you’re looking deeply into the majority of my paintings, good luck. You’re more than likely reading into it.