We’ve all learned from others throughout our lives. Starting with our parents and our family, then to our peers, and then to the people who teach us in school. All of our learning is an accumulation of the people who have influenced us along the way. I’m often asked who has influenced me the most along my artistic journey.
When it comes to my art career, there have been a few who encouraged and inspired me. Some are people I have never personally met, but whose art has lit a fire under me, and spurned my desire to create.
When I was young, my three favorite artists were:
Even as a little girl I was mesmerized by his use of light and his natural sepia colors. In art history classes, the eyes in his portraits seemed to look right through me.
My early years in school also introduced me to Michelangelo’s work. His powerful realism in both painting and sculpture is what made me long to be a realist. To this day, I never tire of seeing his work.
3. Norman Rockwell
To me, Rockwell is an artistic genius. His ability to tell a story with his work is second to none. While some have criticized him for using a projector in his work, placing him in a “non-artist” category, I highly disagree. His pieces are original from beginning to end. He chose his subjects carefully, posed them himself, photographed them, and used the projector to incorporate multiple photos into one stunning piece. To me, few are this creative and skilled. Oh, how I wish I could be more like him!
4. My sister Cathi
My sister is 11 years older than me, and I watched her bloom as an artist when I was young. I would drool over her art supplies. It was she who first showed me what a kneadable eraser was! She is a fabulous abstract/impressionist. While I didn’t share her style in art, her use of design and color captured me at a very young age. Being around her art is still exciting to me. She is also a wonderful cartoonist. She moved away when I was little, and would write me letters with hilarious cartoons of her and her family. She still does this for her grandkids. She is fabulously creative, and she still inspires me daily.
When I had my first book published, I reminisced about all of the creative mentoring I had throughout my school years. My Junior High teacher, Ms. Furlong, was one of them. She was a young teacher, just out of college, so she really related to us youthful and creative minds. For fun, I sent her a copy of my first book and thanked her for her encouragement. She had become quite a famous artist herself with her own product line of bisque angels (Margaret Furlong Designs). She remembered me, and we have stayed in touch ever since. Recently, at my 40th high school reunion (yikes!) I asked around for whoever had great memories of her. Many did, so I decided to send her a huge thank you through Facebook. I created a sign for her and gathered up a bunch of her old students for a photo. It meant a lot to her when I posted it on her wall.
I also remember my high school art teacher, Mr. Byorth. He was a kind and patient man, and was highly skilled and supportive. I contacted his son, who was a classmate, to see how he was doing. I was told that he remembered me, and that he was proud of how I had followed my art as a career. That really meant a lot to me, so I decided to pay him a visit the next time I was in my home town. Unfortunately, he died suddenly before I had the chance to go see him. I’m so glad I reached out to him though, so he knew how much he meant to me. I almost missed my chance.
I guess the moral of this story is if someone has influenced you in your life, tell them! It would mean a lot for them to know that they have impacted you in a good and inspiring way. This simple gesture is the gift you can give back to those who gave you the gift of creativity and for sharing their skills and passion with you. So, look back and remember who helped you become the artist that you are. If someone stands out, don’t wait! Tell them thank you! You never know when the chance to say thanks will be gone.
Lee Hammond has been called the Queen of Drawing. That may not be fair these days, since in addition to providing the best drawing lessons, she has also created fantastic books and videos filled with the same easy to follow acrylic painting techniques, colored pencil techniques and more. Click here to see all of the instructional books and DVDs that Lee Hammond has to offer!