Exploring Artistic Influences

Recently, I was lucky enough to see some wonderful art at museums in Paris and Amsterdam. I started thinking about how many of the master artists were influenced by other artists. Some, like Cezanne and Pissaro actually painted together. They were both influenced by the Impressionists, but Cezanne, like Van Gogh, went in a different direction, which, in turn, influenced many other artists after them.
Chloe and the Red Chair 36"x36"
Judy Feldman
 Almost all artists have their muses, and I think it’s so interesting to see how an artist can take inspiration from art they admire, and then incorporate certain elements into their own unique work. I believe that inspiration also comes from the subconscious, from experiences we’ve have had and places we’ve been during our lives.

For me, it’s always been the post-Impressionists – especially Matisse! I admire his amazing use of color, his disregard for the rules of perspective, and his emphasis on his reactions to what he saw, and how he transmitted those feelings in his paintings. Can you see his influence in "Chloe and the Red Chair"? Other painters, such as Bonnard and Gabrielle Munter also have inspired me. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in France, and I think that this, too, shows up in my paintings.
Following this theme of influences, I phoned a few Wilde Meyer artists to see who their muses were. Here are their responses:

Karen Bezuidenhout:

Three Horses 48"x48"
by Karen Bezuidenhout
Karen Bezuidenhout came to California from South Africa. She started painting in Santa Barbara and bought her first piece of original art from an artist named Billy Woolway. He became her muse and her mentor. Karen grew up around horses and knew that she wanted to paint them, but in her own way. Soon, she found her style and went from small paintings to works as big as 8’X12’. Karen also mentioned that she’s influenced by the painter Milton Avrey.

"Someone once said that my paintings reminded them of Avery, so I got a book about him, and became so inspired by his work," she said.
Elephant Family 48x48
by Karen Bezuidenhout

 Her painterly technique, simple shapes and use of earthy color reflect her influences, as does her South African background and affinity for horses. You can see this in her paintings, "Three Horses," and "Elephant Family."

Desert Valley 41"x55"
by Sushe Felix
Sushe Felix lives in Colorado. Her southwest landscapes have a distinctive style, which she claims is derived from her interest in American abstract painters from the 1930’s and 40s, as well as the modernist movement.

Vista 24"x33"
by Sushe Felix
“In particular, I’ve been influenced by Raymond Jonson, who led the Transcendental Painting Group in Santa Fe,” Sushe explained. 

I looked up the group on Google, and found that the aim of the Transcendental Painting Group was "to defend, validate and promote abstract art. They sought to carry painting beyond the appearance of the physical world, through new expressions of space, color, light and design."   Thomas Hart Benton, who was at the forefront of the Regionalist movement, also influenced Sushe, as did the southwest regionalist painters, who took the local landscape and abstracted it. Sushe has her own spin on this inspiration, with a strong focus on forms, shapes and color. You can see her unique style in these paintings, entitled "Desert Valley" and "Vista."

Ka Fisher:

Sneak Preview 60"x72"
by Ka Fisher
 Ka Fisher has some conscious and some subconscious influences on her art. She has studied with Marjorie Portnow and followed the work of Ron Pokrasso – both printmakers. She’s a big fan of Joan Mitchell, who she admires for her energy and mark makings. Other painters who have contributed to her style include Eric Fischl, Susan Rothenberg, Caravaggio and Renoir (in particular his iconic painting entitled “The Luncheon of the Boating Party”).

Spiritual Ritual 36"x48"
by Ka Fisher
I asked Ka why she frequently uses Native Americans in her paintings – such as “Spiritual Ritual” and “Sneak Preview.” Then, I learned of her subconscious influence: she believes that her mother, who grew up in South Dakota, was a Native American. According to Ka, her mother never actually said as much, but she talked all the time about her heroes, who included Maria Tallchief, Crazy Horse and the Olympian Jim Thorpe. Her mother was a great storyteller, and that, too affects Ka’s narrative style. Native American artists, such as Fritz Scholder and Melanie Yazzie are also in her “muse library.” But Ka says she’s influenced by “everything,” and has photos all over her studio to provide the “information” that fuels her painting process.

Barbara Gurwitz:

The Mission at Tucamcori 40"x60"
by Barbara Gurwitz

Barbara Gurwitz’s first artistic influences were some prints that were on the inside and back cover of the dictionary she used as a child.

"They were primitive American paintings of the four seasons in a rural setting," she said. "I couldn’t stop looking at them."

Barbara went to school in Boston and frequented the Fine Arts Museum there. She likes the Impressionists, as well as Modigliani, but her main muse is Van Gogh because "he was willing to go outside the box.
Looking Northwest Across the Rio Grande 34"x44"
by Barbara Gurwitz
"With Van Gogh, the paint itself is part of the subject. I love how he painted wet on wet. Van Gogh said that it’s the artist’s responsibility to help people see the joy of creation within the world." 

Barbara lives outside of Tucson, and likes to paint the small villages in southern Arizona and New Mexico, particularly those with a mission church surrounded by the town. She has painted the same village seven or eight times, from various directions and in different seasons, so that no one is ever the same. "The Mission at Tumacacori" and "Looking Northwest Across the Rio Grande" are examples of her colorful, expressive landscapes.

You can view more art by each of these artists at Wilde Meyer Gallery's website: