What Has Influenced Me As An Artist?

What Has Influenced Me As An Artist?

It’s a question that anyone who makes art gets asked, what were your influences? Sometimes they’re very obvious, but there can be some surprises in there too! This is going to be a post filled with nostalgia for anyone who was born at a similar time to me (’76), so settle down and enjoy!

I was scribbling and making pictures from when I was very little, much like any other artist – and much like any child, I’m not sure there are many kids who don’t take pen or paint to paper at some point, it’s just some of us keep going!

I think I really got ‘the bug’ as it were, in my early teens, my favourite thing to draw was unicorns and dragons/monsters and my favourite movie stars! I was massively into horses too so they were always a subject I returned to over and over. I didn’t really think about art being something I could do full time till my late twenties and it took even longer for me to make art into something which could make me a living (and that is partially luck!). I was 40 before I was able to make a living from my art full time. Part of that happening I think was my becoming more consistent in my style which I talk about in this blog post.

SO here I am, 47 and a half years later and I thought I’d collect together all the things that I think have influenced me as an artist. Some things of course won’t be visual, but just life experiences, but I can show you most of the visual ones!

Fairy Tales & Illustrated Stories

The first taste of magical stories were the fairytales (Grimm’s included) that my parents read to me. I was often more interested in looking at the illustrations of the books than the stories themselves, but some of them really got embedded in my mind. I even have some of the books from my childhood still…

I think the cover of this book is what sticks in my mind the most, the internal illustrations are very strange. I haven’t looked at this one in years!

Another old classic stuffed with all sorts of tales and some amazing illustrations by Gustave Doré.

This colourful beauty was a favourite and I remember trying to copy the horses in this a few times as a teenager. Gorgeous illustrations!

This next book I suspect is the reason that I am in love with the story of Beowulf. The book was published in 1964 and I vividly remember really loving this flat illustration style. I was recently trying to remember when it was I first heard the story of Beowulf and I can only imagine that this is the book that was responsible!

There was no way that this book wasn’t going to be here, was there? I don’t know anyone who’s working in fantasy art today who doesn’t love this book. I used to have good faeries and bad faeries but no idea where that went!

I’ve shared the pages that had the most impact on me, that when I think of the book over the years, they are the ones that come to mind. I just LOVE the lady of the lake here, Alan Lee is a magician with Watercolours.

And then predictably the Kelpie, it being an equine, was one of my favourite images in this book growing up. I love the simplicity of this illustration.

Fantasy & Creature Movies

In 1982 The Last Unicorn and The Flight Of Dragons were released. At some point my mum must have bought these for us on VHS and I then watched them OVER AND OVER, and to this day know all the words still!

I still absolutely love The Last Unicorn, it’s just so magical.

Ray Harryhausen also has a lot to answer for! I was terrified of his creatures, but I still loved watching them in action.

The next obsession after The Last Unicorn, was Labyrinth. I was 11 when it came out in the cinema and then later on we got it on VHS and I watched it hundreds of times. I absolutely ADORED Ludo, Sir Diddimus and the little cheeky worm too. I so so wanted to be like Sarah, and definitely wanted to have ENORMOUS hair like she had in the ballroom scene!

Legend was a lot darker than Labyrinth but it had UNICORNS! I mean look at this scene, it was pure fantasy romance. I love how they cover everything in glitter in this movie. I will only watch it with the original theatrical sountrack by Tangerine Dream though, I tried watching it with the newer score and it just doesn’t have the same magic to me.

Meg Mucklebones absolutely scared me fartless! I don’t think I saw this till a little later as it came out the year before Labyrinth.

School

At school I did ok in art, particularly for GCSE (when I was 16), despite my subject matter being all over the place, as you can see by the wall of my work below! On the left is a painting I did in gouache.

I didn’t do so well at A level art in the exam but I was more stubborn about what they wanted me to do (I didn’t see how my choice of interpretation would make a difference, surely this was the whole point!) – the theme was fauvism and i did a horse galloping along a purple beach and the horse was orange (I think!). I thought that was fauvist but perhaps it wasn’t just that that influenced their decision. Anyway, ultimately all that school stuff makes little difference in the real world.

Following school I didn’t go to Uni but did do a year foundation course in art which was interesting, but they weren’t really keen on figurative art at that time since it was when Damien Hirst was at his height of fame with his conceptual art installations and well… I was never going to go down that route. I wish I’d known more about illustration back then as I should have done that at Uni I think. We were able to go and talk to artists who were already working in their fields, and I talked to a local illustrator who had obviously regretted becoming an illustrator as he was very definitely trying to put me off which is a shame, it definitely coloured my decision of not going to Uni.

Nature Documentaries & The Natural World

I was very lucky to grow up in a rural area and spent a lot of time climbing trees and living around animals and rescuing them sometimes when we were little. My Grandfather and parents definitely instilled a love of the natural world and so we would often watch nature documentaries. My mother told us there were fairies living in the bottom of the garden and told us we needed to go pick seeds and flowers to feed them and I definitely believed they were real! All this had a huge impact on me and certainly is at its most evident in my world of Strangehollow, which became more and more ‘natural world’ with each book.

Inspiration From Well Known Painters

I am adding this the day after posting this blog post as I foolishly left it out, but there was a reason, and that is that I don’t think these painters have influenced me as much as the other things I’ve mentioned here. But they are the painters that when I look at them, make ME want to paint.

If I added all the paintings I love here then we’d be here all day, so I am going to show you the paintings that I loved as a teenager. We had been taken to see Damien Hirst’s work at the Turner Prize, and I wasn’t really into it (although it was interesting to see the inside of a cow!), so I wandered off to see the other art in the gallery. Many of which were the pre-raphaelites. I remember distinctly my history of art teacher asking me what I thought of the Turner Prize and I said I didn’t really like it but that I loved the Pre Raphaelites and she replied ‘yes, but is it art?’ – Of course it is!

Here are some favourites from that time and the ones I loved when I saw them for the first time. They are not necessarily favourites these days, but they made a big impact at the time.

The Lady Of Shallot – JW Waterhouse

Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysses – JW Waterhouse

Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth 1889 John Singer Sargent – I loved this, the drama and the colours.

Carnation, Lily, Lily Rose John Singer Sargent

Midsummer Eve – Edward Robert Hughes (watercolour!)

Ophelia – John Everett Millais – this and the lady of shallot were paintings that I was transfixed by as a teenager.

Life!

Obviously every experience we’ve ever had also influences our work and what we choose to paint. When I was younger I really loved doing quite gory and horror themed art, I’m not sure why it was appealing, but I loved that genre. Werewolves were a favourite, but the older I get the more soft I get and I can now barely watch any kind of gory movie and they never used to affect me! I think part of it is that I am so much more aware of the horrors in the real world that people are experiencing daily, I don’t want to add to it somehow, at least that’s how it feels.

I want to make art that moves me. I want escapism, I want to be able to chase that feeling that I had when I did believe in fairies and when I thought there really was a monster living under my bed. I want to inspire other people who look at my art, and put smiles on faces! My nostalgia for my past experiences I’ve had have definitely led me down this whimsical path I now find myself on.

Who knows where I will go next? I have so many things I want to do and now that I’ve started dabbling in sculpture again I know that that might lead me down a different path possibly, at least part time!

Whether you’re an artist or a consumer of art, what do you think has led you to the kind of art that you love now?

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Basement Troll Video – Enchantment Tier Reward

Basement Troll Video – Enchantment Tier Reward

Hi folks!

A big thank you to Sandra for the fun prompt for her commission for this cycle! I had so much fun painting this little guy!

I made a timelapse of the process of this guy – normally I won’t do Timelapse’s as they really do take up so much time (and I have to work around the camera a little), but I managed to set it up so I didn’t think about it too much! I also have some ‘real time’ painting in here too.

Chuck on your favourite tunes and enjoy!

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Animation Of Blinking Eyes Tutorial In Procreate

Animation Of Blinking Eyes Tutorial In Procreate


First of all, a big warm welcome to my newest patron, Lisa! Thank you so much for joining my special little place on the internet!

ALSO my Kickstarter goes live a week tomorrow and you can go and ‘follow’ it so that you get an email as soon as it goes live (I will post in here too when it does, but it won’t be as fast as following the project!). You can follow it HERE.

As requested by Isabelle – here is my tutorial for you guys! I know most of you won’t necessarily be interested, but for those of you who will be, I hope that it is clear enough!

I’ll be doing the hangout this week – I don’t know if it will be Wednesday or Thursday yet.

Here is the video!

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Little Mushroom Guy

Little Mushroom Guy

This is Elizabeth’s Enchantment tier reward (from when she was on Patreon). I hope you like him Elizabeth!

Also a big warm welcome to my newest member, Lexie!! Lovely to have you here!! YAY!

He will be going into my new creature book! I’m still trying to think of names for the book. Maybe ‘Mischief’ could be fun! They mostly look like they’re up to no good after all…

I’ve posted some little videos of the process on instagram and TikTok too! 

This little naughty chap will be going into the creature book, along with other creatures I do for the Enchantment tier. I hope to have at least 40 creatures for the book… do I give them descriptions and little anecdotes too? Or just leave it to the imagination?

Have a fantastic weekend everyone!

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Month Of Love – ‘Embrace’

Month Of Love – ‘Embrace’

This week and next week are the weeks i’ve chosen to do my Month Of Love entries. The first two prompts ( Silence and Rift) didn’t speak to me so much. I am also doing a million things at the moment too (finishing Secrets Of Strangehollow which should have the edit back this week!) and obviously have been building the new membership, so I didn’t have time to think of something profound or deep. But who doesn’t love a lovely hug? Well, some people don’t and that’s ok, but I know I love a hug! 

I’m sending out a hug for all of you who are not able to hug the ones you love right now <3

If anyone wanted to snap these guys up before it goes to my shop then it is £350 for them plus shipping. The size is approx 8.5 x 7.5 inches. They will also be in the next creature book I’m launching in May (hopefully May!). It will be 148mm square (approx 6 x 6 inches). I will be keeping most of them aside for when I do the Kickstarter. 

I also ordered a dot sheet from Schmincke this week. It doesn’t have the new granulating colours that they have on it (which I used for these creatures actually!), but the quality is really good. I’m not sure how much I would replace from my Daniel Smith range (my favourites), but there are a couple I have my eye on! 

Some of these colours didn’t really produce much pigment at all (cobalt azure was one) but those were in the minority. 

My next prompt is ‘Song’ and I have another creature planned out… 

He is singing the song of his people 🙂 

I hope you all have a wonderful week!


Ems

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