Friday, 22 February 2013

Early Influence and Inspiration...

Always follow your dream....

Most artists have drawn influence and inspiration for their art from someone whose work has captivated them.  I am certainly no exception to this phenomenon.

Hanging, front and centre, on my living room wall, for almost 40 years, is a reproduction that I painted of Elizabeth Vigée-LeBrun and her daughter.  It is a fairly famous picture, but it has more significance to me than that. This accomplished female portrait painter would be a great inspiration and influence to my re-acquaintance with oil painting.

I was given my first oil paints on my thirteenth birthday as a gift from my mother.  I had already been drawing portraits for a number of years and this just seemed like a natural progression into the arts.

The oil paints came from a shop run by a local artist that my mother knew, who was very accomplished at painting landscapes.  He offered to give me some free lessons.  There was a problem with this though, as his speciality was landscape and my interests were portraits.

Needless to say the landscape painting waned, my fascination with portraits took front and centre and I left the oil paints behind to take up charcoal and pastels.

I worked with charcoal and pastels exclusively for a number of years, doing (and selling) pictures of portraits and flowers, until I happened to make the acquaintance of another rather well known artist who liked my work but thought that oil paints were much easier to use than pastels, and convinced me that I should give it another “go”.

And so I gave it another go, but I felt that if I was going to use oils, then I would use them in the style of the old “masters”, with their deep rich palette of colors, and it would be people, not landscapes, that I would paint.  So I researched art books at the UBC library, and this is where I came across Elizabeth Vigée-Lebrun, best known for the paintings she did for the Royal Family of France (In particular her portraits of Marie Antoinette). Her works and her accomplished portraiture were my biggest inspiration. This was my return to oil painting and I've never looked back!  

I think if there is a moral to this story it would be to - ALWAYS go where your heart takes you. If a certain kind of art captivates you then that’s what you should be doing and don’t get caught up in someone else’s vision of what you should be doing.

... And Elizabeth Vigée-Lebrun will continue to hang on my wall as a reminder and inspiration to me of a great and accomplished female portrait artist who did what she loved to do ...

...more on Paris and Versailles in a later blog....   

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