Of influences

I’ve been working on a project lately that I’ve promised to finish up: a book that’s been languishing in my to-do pile for at least a year.  It’s not a massive project.  When I finally finish it and edit it into some sort of readability, it should be about the size of a thin novel, nothing fancy.  Still, it’s dredging up memories and parts of my past that I don’t think about on a daily basis, and that got me musing.

Every artist is influenced by other artists.  I never really thought about what influences me, and I’m not sure that I have any one influence that I can point to and say “my art is this way because of that.”  It doesn’t help that I’m horrible with names.  I can describe a piece of art that I like, that I tried to figure out how they did it, but I couldn’t tell you the name of the artist unless I google it first.

I think I can safely blame this guy for my love of macro.  Wilson Bentley was the first person to successfully photograph snowflakes in 1885.  I think it’s ironic that Bentley was a self-educated farmer that went on to combine art and science with his pioneering work.  I was first exposed to Bentley’s work as a teen, ironically enough from calendar art.  I was blown away by the beauty that a macro shot can reveal.

The second major influence also photographed a long time ago.  I didn’t see any of Timothy O’Sullivan’s photography until I was in college. I came across his work first in a photo history class, and later studied him as part of one of my research projects: a 25 page grad level research paper (there was a reason people hated that class.)  Best known for his work on the battlefield with Matthew Brady’s gallery during the Civil War, O’Sullivan went West after the war and captured photographs of the mostly unsettled natural beauty as part of a government survey team.

If we’re talking inspiration related to Cyanotypes, I think it’s safe to say that Christopher James, Dr. Mike Ware, and Dan Burkholder not only influenced me with their art, but with their technical expertise while I was searching for a good method for digital negatives.

And while this person is a writer, not an artist (that I know of!) I have to admit she has influenced me a great deal.  Patricia McKillip writes fantasy: she is a master writer whose work is concise and lyrical, not to mention beautiful.  Every time I read one of her books I want to visually reflect her words – familiar and unfamiliar mingles with the unknown and unearthly.

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