Sunday, April 3, 2011

Notes on becoming an artist... part one of two

After a brief navel gazing period that I’ll share with you over the next couple of weekends, I plan to start a weekly Sunday post on influence and inspiration.

Here’s part one of a two part post…

There’s been a bit of brouhaha amongst some of the Internet art cognoscenti lately, having to do with notions of plagiarism, derivation, originality and commerce. (See here for the main gist of the issues: Making a Mark, “Plagiarism or 'passing off' - it's got to stop“ and “Make Your Own Art!”) It’s probably inside baseball to most of the people who read this blog, but it’s set me to thinking a bit about how my own journey reflects on those issues. I’d like to share a little bit of how I got to where I am at the moment: what has influenced me over the years, why I paint what I do now, and where I plan on going in the future. From the vantage point of my head it seems pretty logical and consistent.

What has inspired and influenced me over the years?

I’ve been an avid consumer of visual imagery since as far as I can remember, and except for a short period up until about the fifth grade, I’ve always wanted to be an artist (earlier I wanted to be a scientist). At first I really wanted to be a comic book artist (a dream that came true eventually). In high school that changed to the idea of becoming an editorial illustrator (which I did for awhile after college). A few years after graduating college I think I finally came out as a ‘fine artist.’ So what shaped my aesthetic?

Here are a few artistic highlights by decade…

I was an avid consumer of comics and children’s books through this period—I started reading teen-age comics at a very early age (thanks Dad!), and looking at kids picture books long past age appropriateness; I used to go to the library after middle school and devour illustrated books for hours at a time.
Gil Kane was extremely memorable to me, as was Neal Adams.

Click images to see larger pictures
80s part I
I was at the height of my comics mania during the first part of the decade, and there are too many major artists to mention, but here are the top few:

80s part II
In the later part of the eighties comics turned more illustrative which opened my eyes quite a bit. The stories got more adult, and the quality and depth of the art got more mature to follow. I also discovered my first true non comics influences in some amazing editorial illustrators and a few fine artists.
Dave McKean Gary Kelley

Richard Diebenkorn Burt Silverman

I graduated college early in this decade, with a broader interest set than I had started. My earlier influences still held me, along with new additions. I dallied a little with some of the more conceptual artists: Du Champ, Matisse, and a few others, but mostly stayed true to representational figurative art.
Highlights include:

Edgar Degas John Singer Sargent Edward Hopper

Edouard Vuillard Mary Cassatt Johannes Vermeer

Malcolm Liepke Margaret Dyer J.C. Leyendecker


This last decade has seen an explosion of imagery on the web (up until about 2000, most all of the art I had seen was in books, magazines, or gallery/museums), and consequently, I’ve seen a lot more contemporary art and had access to others not well represented to me until this time.

Thomas Eakins Dan Gerhartz Scott Burdick

Dean Cornwell Jeremy Lipking Joaquin Sorolla

Phillip Geiger Paul Oxborough Duane Keiser

Justin Clayton Shawn Kenney Julian Merrow-Smith

This brings up pretty much up to date. I've found that while my tastes have changed somewhat over the last thirty odd years, they have changed remarkably little over the last twenty five-- basically late high school and after.

Next week I’ll talk a little about how the artists above, combined with my own sensibility factor, turned how and what I paint now…

(much shorter post, I promise!)


Steven said...

Thanks for sharing, Jason. Great read.

Jason Waskey said...

Thank *you* Steven. Always nice to have you around these parts!

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

I think it was great of you to include the links to all of these great artists.
Not too long at all.

Jason Waskey said...

Thank you, Mary!