Vision Thing is a journal I write to share my experience and passion as an artist with my collectors,
galleries, friends and art enthusiasts everywhere. My goal is to offer a "behind the scenes" or
insider's view of what makes an artist tick...this artist at least.
I appreciate you sharing my journey.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Heroes & Inspiration: An Overview

At a recent one-man show I had a pleasant conversation with a couple and the topic of my art heroes arose. Specifically I was asked if I was influenced by Georgia O'Keefe, "Absolutely!" was my reply and I thought this would make a good topic to share. There are quite a few artists and teachers that have inspired me over the years and I will post more in-depth bios on them in the future. This first "Heroes" article is an overview and introduction to the artists and teachers that have influenced and shaped my creative process (in no particular order).

Georgia O'Keefe

As mentioned, she has been an influence mainly for her imagery and focused design. In her simple, almost meditative compositions she raises humble objects and the beauty of nature to the status of icons. It is clear in her work that she loves organic forms whether they be a ram's skull or a delicate flower. Her almost zen-like compositions tend toward an informal symmetry and I have always been drawn to the same treatment of simple subjects, skulls, stones, driftwood, insects, etc. I identify with her fascination for the elegance found in nature and her reverential treatment of her subjects.

Ronald Davis

I first came across Davis' work at Shasta College in the form of a one-man show poster in the office of one of the theater instructors. I could see it from the window and I would just stand outside and look at it - I would go out of my way to walk by that window on occasion. I never wrote down his name, which I eventually forgot. Years later I ran across a used book with a collection of california artists from the seventies - there he was! I wrote down the name. Davis was born in Santa Monica, California in 1937 but raised in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He eventually found his way back to California and attended the San Francisco Art Institiute from 60-64. In 1963 he began working in a geometric, hard-edged style with a focus on spatial illusion. It was in the mid seventies that he created his "Snapline" series. These were very large scale, illusionary paintings based on geometric forms set in what seemed to me to be deserts or planar landscapes. I don't really know why I respond to them with such interest, sometimes it is just enough to feel it, part of the mystery I think. As much as I love his Snapline Series it his geometric illusion pieces that influence my geometric and illusionary work.

Alan Magee

Magee was born in 1947 in Newton, Pennsylvania. He began a career as an editorial and book cover illustrator in 1969. In the late seventies he began to concentrate on his personal work and had his first solo show at Staempfli Gallery in New York. He became quite popular in the early eighties with his realistic paintings of beach stones. His delicate, "trompe l'oeil" paintings of bones, carburetors, stones, and other simple objects, like O'keefe, raise them to a place of reverance. I often think of his work when I make a connection with the humble object - whether organic like a stone or man made like some interesting part of a machine.

Ruben Heredia

Ruben is a figure drawing instructor at Butte College near Chico, CA. He primarily works in graphite and colored pencil developing beautiful, elegant and fascinating compositions. His approach to the figure is fresh and unique and seems to represent ideals and concepts hidden within the forms. His drawings are less about portraiture and more about spirit and connection with life, nature and the cosmos. Much of his work focuses on the female torso interwoven with graphic and organic forms, merging into a complex composition of elements; hair becoming tentacles, an arm becoming a gauntlet, a head taking on aspects of a knights helm. He will often play with surface illusion as well, defining water droplets or small spheres sitting on the surface of the paper or even floating just above the surface and casting shadows. The playful, humorous aspect of his work is an echo of Ruben's personality as well, full of both wisdom and humor he is always willing to share with his students. Ruben's exploration and vision of the figure resonates deeply with me and is as close to my own vision as I've ever encountered.
(Scroll all the way to the bottom to see a slideshow of some of Ruben's work)

Richard Wilson

Richard is an important person in my journey as an artist. Richard ran the art department at Shasta College in Redding, California and is where I got started in the early 1980's. Richard's work is minimal, geometric abstraction and while not a direct inspiration, his work ethic, energy and knowledge of art were very inspiring. He was the first person "beyond the nest" to recognize that I might have what it takes to follow the artist's path. I recall the department as being fairly casual and close-knit at that time and I became Richard's "Assistant", hanging the gallery shows, organising this and that, prepping and clean-up the classrooms. It was a great experience and I'll never forget handling and hanging some of the "important" pieces in the permanent collection - Picasso, Warhol and Lichtenstein lithographs come to mind. It was here under Richard's encouragement and in this atmosphere that I began to form many of my mature ideas about fine art that I am still exploring today. I must also mention that Richard taught Art History with passion and knowledge, bringing such a sense of life to both individual artists and cultures that one couldn't help but be inspired. For his encouragement and example I will always be grateful and I hope to inspire the same passion and vision within my students.

I hope you have enjoyed this bit of "hero worship" and that it gives you a little insight into my inspiration. Best Wishes for the New Year!


1 comment:

  1. Jeff
    These are great. I am surprised by the non representational aspect of all of these. I hope you'll continue to share your other influences, with more examples of their work in future posts.