Yet another blog post I’ve wanted to put in writing for some time now but haven’t been able to find time. Below is a list of websites for some of the artists who have inspired me and kept me moving forward in my career. If I hadn’t found these artists, I’m sure I would have made precious little improvement with my art over the past few years since graduating from Mass Art. Below is a vast array of artists from highly textured oil portrait painters, to highly imaginative fantasy art, fantastic children’s book illustrations and a few breathtaking landscape painters. All of these styles have pushed me and prodded as I struggle to discover my own voice in the world of art and push forward with some sort of unique style. I wrote a bit about the first few and ultimately had to resort to just listing websites for the rest. I wanted to include some images of some of there work but I don’t have time to send requests to each artist or even just to collect the images and upload them. I hope you’ll journey over yourselves and feel free to let me know of some of your favorites in the comments. Enjoy!
One of my recent favorite illustrators would have to be Richard Watson. his website http://www.richardjessewatson.com/ The website doesn't do his work justice since he uses lots of texture which is more evident in the books than on the website.
An illustrator I found about four years ago is James Gurney. He is probably my biggest inspiration since graduating from massart. I think I first saw his work displayed at some illustrators guild museum or something. He is the illustrator and author of a series known as Dinotopia which was made into movies and I think cartoons as well. He spent a lot of time working on site with national Geographic’s doing illustrations for them. He also does tons of prep work and makes sculptures of his characters before starting a painting. I wish I could put as much time into my work as he does and I wish I had all of the ala prima painting experience behind me that he has. Take a look at his painting gallery. I unfortunately have to work mostly from photo references for now but he uses lots of live references, gets live models, paints landscapes from life, on and on. When painting dinosaurs he uses real life animals with similar textures as reference. For example he’ll look to elephant skin and crocodiles to get the textures for dino skin. His use of color, compositions, attention to detail, original ideas/concepts, ability to merge the imagination with the real world are just outstanding. He shows me what true passion mixed with illustration can be. When talking about the Dinotopia series he mentions that he loves the concept because he gets to bring dinosaurs back to life and put them beside humans. He sees it as painting history more so than fantasy or sci-fi. As a kid he was always fascinated by dinos because he knew they were once alive not like unicorns, dragons, trolls, and vampires. His website. . . http://www.jamesgurney.com/index.html
Ok, you may not have heard of the others so far but I know you’ve heard of Norman Rockwell. He is definitely one of my favorites. I grew up with his work all around me because my grandfather has a huge collection of his. He actually has so many prints and mugs, and plates and calendars and other objects with Rockwell paintings that he could open his own museum. I have a few norman Rockwell collectors books that I look through every now and then for inspiration. I also went to the Norman Rockwell museum a couple years ago. His figures are some of the best I’ve come across, he paints some of the best facial expressions I’ve come across, he paints hands better than I could ever dream of doing, his themes are touching, timeless and meaningful, everything in the painting belongs there and helps tell the story, he tells stories better than most illustrators. There are many website but this seems to be the main one http://www.normanrockwell.com/index.php .
One of my favorites for book design and layout is David Wiesner. He is also amazing for his ability to tell the entire story without words. You’ve probably come across his book called “Tuesday”. It’s all illustrations. Granted the story is nothing spectacular but it’s fun for the kids and adults. He’s also got a knack for point of view perspective where he can take you from the top of a clock tower looking down on the town in one image and bring you down into a swamp with the turtles in another image. For part of his process he talks about how he gets his ideas. He makes and interesting image then asks the question what happened before and after that particular scene. He can then build an entire book around it. http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/authors/wiesner/home.html
Another great story teller through illustrations is Chris Van Allsburg. He’s the only illustrator I know of who made an entire children’s book out of graphite drawings, no color. He works with so little and yet he gives the reader so much. My favorite images of is are those with glowing aspects. You may have seen his image with the woman cutting a glowing pumpkin with a knife. I mostly know him for his book “ The Mysteries of Harris Burdick” http://www.chrisvanallsburg.com/flash.html
One of my favorite painters is Scott Burdick. He is one of the ones who helped me to love texture in painting (although my clients tend to hate texture so I do very little with it for now). He’s also great with light and shadow on forms. His website is amazing. His wife, susan Lyon, is also really good and is also featured on this site. Be sure to click on some of the images for close-ups. I love that they show there work back years ago so you can see how they progressed.
Another somewhat recent favorite is holly hobbie the author and writer of the toot and puddle series. She has amazing layout skills, Great range of medium in each book. Unique painting technique and great color harmony. She has cute and simple characters with terrific stories to back them up. http://www.scottburdick.com/
Some other great ones who I don’t have time to write about and may be worth your time to have a look at.
William Scott Jennings http://www.wsjennings.com/jennings/home.phtml
Charles Kerins http://www.charleskerins.com/
David Renn http://www.davidrenn.com.au/index.html