Wednesday, March 7, 2012


I had someone ask me the other night who my biggest artistic influences are. I rattled off the names of a few artists I like (Rick Berry, Phil Hale, Justin Gerrard, Jim Gurney, etc. etc. etc.), got a weird look (who?), and that was that. But then I reflected on it for a while. What really are the biggest influences in my art? Sure there are a number of artists I admire, whose techniques I draw from, but they aren't really the responsible parties for what I choose to create.

I suppose I owe a lot to my father, and his father, who would draw with me as a child. But then what about my friends in elementary school who would make maps and monsters with me every day? Or all of the pets we had growing up (and we had a few)? The sunny days spent on the lake? The stormy ones? The bugs that would crawl across my knees, or the clouds making their paths across the sky? What about every scraped elbow, every stranger's laugh, every flu I've ever had? Are these things any less pivotal to the way I see things - the way I create? I began to contemplate that all of these memories and experiences don't just shape my history, or my understanding of the world, but they are also entirely responsible for what I create as an artist.

Sometimes the influence is obvious - flatworms and paramecium informing a creepy monster, or an old man at a cafe turning into a hero born of a song, but more often I cannot pinpoint where my visions come from. I can assume that they are bred of countless images and experiences conspiring silently to make me make this or that picture. Endless faces seen morph into the one on the page. All the trees of my youth ripple and twist into the one on the canvas. Everything I've ever know coming together in my effort to relay the beauty I see in it all. It's odd to think about, but now I have a better answer for the next person who asks me what my influences are. I will smile, and tell them:

Thank you for reading, and for just being. You are all the reason I make things, and the reason life is so damn wonderful.

More art next time. I promise.

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