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Influences Along The Way

HAWKESBURY LOW CLOUD 61 x 61cm | Oil on Linen | 2020 John Morris

The power of others who have influenced my art journey.

Throughout my life as an artist, I have sought out other artists, living and dead, to help me further my art career. All of these have been professional artists in their own right, such as Judith White, Jon Olson, David Andrews, John Morris, Colin McCahon and Kristine Ballard. All these artists have at one time tutored me, sadly some of them have since passed. All of them I thank, for without them I would not be the artist I am today.

The influences in my life as an artist, may come in different forms. These might be: living people, books, films, works I see in galleries and museums, Nature, other contemporary artists and probably many other things as well.

Other artists who have had a major influence on me through their writings and their work are, Georgia O'Keeffe, Ben McLaughlin, Barbara Rogers, Modigliani, Lawrence al Tadema, and Lord Leighton. Among others these are the most prominent.

During this month of April I'm going to focus on the power of influences in an artist's life and in particular my own life. Who has had the biggest impact, what that was or is and how that has shown up in my work.

I'm going to begin with John Morris.

I met him in in February of 2014. He is a Newcastle artist who taught at the Gosford Regional Gallery for a couple of years. I had reached the point where I was feeling quite stuck and stagnating in my art practice and felt it was time to get some new input, some help. I needed someone looking from the outside in, to evaluate and help me move in another direction.

So I signed up for a term of classes with him. It was funny going back to being a student again after so long being a teacher, although I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it.

You know how sometimes you meet those people that you have an instant affinity with, well John was one of those people for me?

He is an artist who is very passionate about and connected to his art. In our first lesson he sat us all down and walked us through a bit of art history and his personal experience of many artist's work that he had seen in the flesh so-to-speak. He had spent several years in Europe going from Museum to gallery and back again, studying the work of the great Masters and other contemporaries, and was incredibly knowledgeable in this respect.

From then on at the beginning of each lesson he showed us work from other artists, giving us ideas and Insights that we might apply to our own work.

We would then embark upon some charcoal sketching and after that he gave us different exercises to do. Later we began developing our own works.

So the most important thing here, was that he was teaching us the fully roundness of a working artist's art practice, although I don't think I fully realized that at the time.

At that point in time I had completely forgotten about the value of drawing and how that helps work through ideas in a series. Even as I am writing this I am understanding this point at a deeper level. It is interesting how much more insight I can gain by re-examining my past journey. This brings to mind a quote by Robert Henry, in The Art Spirit, that I read only this morning. He said, " you can learn much from others but more from yourself. In looking at an incomplete canvas after it's doing, the whole thing becomes clear, the tangle dissolves, and you see the way to complete it. ............ don't be ashamed to keep your bad stuff. After all you did it. It is your history and worth studying."

Afternoon Coastal Storm - John Morris

Next Post: More on the influence of John Morris and other things I learnt from him.........

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