MENTAL NOTE #32: “A List of My 5 Most Influential Painters in History, Whose Work has Connected with Me at some Professional or Personal Level.”

So you may be asking yourself, “How in the bloody hell do you narrow down the 5 MOST INFLUENTIAL PAINTERS who have affected your life?”

There’s no way! Right?

Well, wrong…there’s always a way to narrow down a list, and I started with a very substantial list, which included MASTERS OF PAINTING, like: Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Vermeer, Eakins, Whistler, J.S. Sargent, Monet, W. Turner, Van Gogh, E. Hopper, and also, de Kooning, Kandinsky, and Mark Rothko…and MANY MORE! These are all Painters who would be in my TOP 50 FAVOURITE PAINTERS LIST, if, I were to do a “TOP 50 FAVOURITE PAINTERS LIST.”

However, I say, this is NOT a “Favourites List”, this HERE, is a list of Painters who have personally inspired me in my own work; or, Painters who have inspired me in my own personal life.

This list took some time and research to put together, and is MENTAL NOTE #32 – You will remember that I was stuck in the MENTAL NOTE #31.xxXxx-series, for quite awhile, while I researched Painters and their works for this post. Thank the Artistic Muses, the Universe, and God, that now I can move forward with my MENTAL NOTEs.

I did not just willy-nilly choose Painters out of a hat for this list – Oh no! It took time for me to recollect memories, and rank how certain, specific artworks, were especially inspirational, and/or, helpful to me in my life, either in my professional, or in my personal life.

That meant, I had to put a memory with an artwork. The Top Five Artworks, and thus, their Creators, became My 5 Most Influential Painters in (My) History (of Living Life).

So, as you can see, this was NOT a very easy task to perform: I really had to think deeply about what Artworks and Artists have Influenced me the Most.

I had to Make a List of Requirements to Choose Painters – Here are the Main Requirements.

1) Did the Artist’s Work Influence Me, in My Own Work, or Personally, in Some Way? (Mandatory Requirement).
2) Do I Like Other Works by these Artists? (Mandatory Requirement).
3) Have I Personally Seen and Experienced Artworks by these Artists? (Very Helpful Requirement).

That’s about it – Three Good Conditions for choosing my Top 5 Painters; and also, I tried to the best of my ability, to stick to Requirement 3, as much as possible. And in fact, of my Top 5 Painters, I have personally experienced seeing works by 4 out of the 5.

☆ Two Painters who COULD HAVE EASILY MADE MY LIST, are Vincent Van Gogh, and Hieronymus Bosch. However, the 5 Painters on my List seemed more influential to me as I look back on my life and my artistic and personal experiences.

I use the word, “Artists” above in the “Requirements”, but “Painters” in the Title and Heading of this Blog Post, and there is a reason for that.

I use “Artists” above, because not all of the Artworks that Inspired Me, from these ARTISTS, are paintings. In one case, the “Inspirational Artworks” were Bronze Statues.

With that said, ALL 5 of the Artists in My TOP 5 LIST, are Painters. Thus, I use “Painters” and “Artists” here. And, I did NOT include Photographers in this list, even though, many Photographers are also Artists, and many Photographers have influenced me and my work. My TOP 5 PHOTOGRAPHERS LIST will be left for another blog post.

So, here we go – My 5 Most Influential Painters in History, whose Work has Connected with Me at some Professional or Personal Level

I have Chronologically Ordered these Painters to make things a bit easier for me. The ordering here does not reflect my MOST Influential at the top of the List.

A) ANDREA MANTEGNA (B. 1431 near Vicenza, Italy – D. 13 September 1506, in Mantua).

Mantegna was a painter and engraver, and is considered the first “fully Renaissance” artist of northern Italy. Most of Mantegna’s artworks have a religious or mythological theme to them. His architectural perspective paintings include magnificent spectacles going on, and you wonder if the best part about these scenes is seeing the wonderful perspective, or trying to pick up on all of the activity going on in the crowds of people. However, the work that I became obsessed with in 1988, was his painting, “Cristo Morto”, aka, “Lamentacion sobre Cristo muerto”, and, aka, “The Lamentation of Christ” (AD 1480).

In this list, Mantegna is the only Painter whose works I have never seen in person. “Cristo Morto” is located in the Pinacoteca di Brera, Via Brera, 28 – 20121 Milano, Italy.

I won’t go into the Art History of this work, but I will tell you why Mantegna’s work was (is) such an inspiration to me.

In the late 1980’s, I started getting into artwork more seriously. I had always been a Photographer, but doing artwork of other types was new to me in the 80s.

Of course, I had to decide to specialize in a rather radical type of artwork, which would probably drive other artists CRAZY to even think about, and I know why it would, because of my many 100s of hours doing this type of work. The artwork style I’m talking about, is POINTILLISM.

IF you are unfamiliar with “Pointillism”, it is the use of some medium (I chose KOH-I-NOOR Rapidograph Technical Pens, with various nib sizes, filled with Black Ink), and then using that tool to apply dots of various sizes to some material (some type of less porous, acid-free paper (preferably)). * When I say “applying dots”, I mean 10s or 100s of Thousands of Dots per artwork. Yeah, it can drive an artist crazy even thinking about it!

● Back then, before and during each art creation session, I would load up on strong coffee and listen to THE DOORS, and then apply dots for 6 hours straight. Yeah know, you need to be pretty damned wired to make all them dots! I’m pretty sure, if my memory holds true, I was still pounding out dots in my brain for hours after I had stopped each session of work: It was a little bit crazy for sure.

So how does my being a “Pointillist” relate to Andrea Mantegna?

I came across a photograph of “The Lamentation of Christ” in one of my Art History books. When I saw Mantegna’s fantastic use of Foreshortening, I knew that I had to attempt making a Pointillism Artwork of “The Lamentation of Christ”.

● I would define “Foreshortening” as using a perspective from an onward looking angle of say, a person’s body, but looking at them from feet first (for example), making them appear shorter in size, but actually it being a realistic visualization of the person from that angle. It’s kind of like in Photography, where you would use a telephoto lens to take a photograph of a line of people who are spread out several yards apart, but by using that telephoto lens straight on looking at them, the final image would show a line of people squished tightly together. It is sort of the same visual distortion.

I studied every centimetre of Mantegna’s painting, over and over again, for the several months that it took me to complete my recreation/reproduction of my Pointillism version. My artwork must have had 500-Thousand or more dots in it! One of the most difficult tasks of this artwork was getting the cloth that is rippling over the Christ figure, with the highlights and shades, to come out looking fantastic, smooth, and accurate. I think that shroud of cloth was the most difficult part of my Pointillism reproduction.

Side Note: Unfortunately, this artwork, of mine, no longer exists, as many of my Pointillism artworks no longer exist, which makes me very sad.

Nevertheless, I had several Pointillism commissions over the years, and those works do still exist, at least. I will show one of those commissioned artworks in my next blog post.

Here is “The Lamentation of Christ” by Mantegna, which was essential and important, in my Artistic Path.

B) GIOVANNI ANTONIO CANAL, commonly known as CANALETTO (B. 18 October 1697 – D. 19 April 1768)

Canaletto was a cityscape/landscape painter and printmaker, whose work, I would describe as Photograph-like, but Better!

He was born in Venice, and his father was the painter, Bernardo Canal. Thus, that is how he got his name, CANALETTO, meaning, “Little Canal”.

He is famous for his en plain air (plein air) painting of his home city of Venice, and also Rome and London.

☆ I consider Canaletto, the greatest cityscape painter in History.

Currently, the record price paid at auction for a Canaletto painting is 18.6 million Pounds, for his work, “View of the grand Canal from Palazzo Balbi to the Rialto,” which was set in 2005. Therefore, his works are pretty darned impressive to garner that kind of price.

☆ However, it is the quality of his body of work and his DEDICATION TO HIS CRAFT that impressed me so considerably.

In 1986, I took a trip to Boston, Massachusetts, and during that trip, I went to the FOGG Museum, on the Harvard University campus. I have not visited a huge number of art museums, but the FOGG Museum would definitely be in my Top 10 List (I’m pretty darned sure of that)!

While I was walking slowly around the museum, my jaw dropping to the floor with each Rembrandt painting I looked at, I eventually came across the MOST MAGNIFICENT Cityscape Painting I have ever seen in my life.

Lo and Behold, it was a CANALETTO painting titled, “Piazza San Marco with the Basilica” (c.1730-1734) – Shown Below. I think “Most Magnificent” is the best way I can describe this artwork, and I stood there for a long time taking in the grand cityscape as if I were Canaletto doing the looking during his time.

I am not a Landscape Photographer, but I have the highest respect and admiration for the skill possessed by Canaletto, and I think about that dedication he had to see in such detail and beauty, and apply what he saw so accurately, to his canvases. I try to think in those terms also, and I think in details and try to apply as much details in my Art Photography – I think Canaletto influenced me to think in carefully-considered, minute details.

C) ALBERT BIERSTADT (B. 7 January 1830 – D. 18 February 1902), was a German-American, large-scale landscapes painter, who depicted scenes of the American West. To see the scenes he painted, he joined many expeditions that went out on the Westward Expansion. Bierstadt was a member of the Hudson River School, which was a group of like-minded painters. One of the most beautiful characteristics of the paintings by these painters, is the glowing light technique, which is sometimes called “luminism”.

When I was in High School, I had a very large, framed print hanging on my wall, of Bierstadt’s painting, “Among the Sierra Nevada”, (1868) {Shown Below}. This is a painting that I woke up to see every morning, and I was filled with a certain kind of “luminism” within me, each time I saw that reproduction poster. I would say this particular work, played a very important personal impact for me – I was always in awe that Artists could create such magnificent works; and thus, I wanted to create my own magnificent works.

The work of Bierstadt’s that I have personally seen is “Storm on the Matterhorn”, (1886) {Shown Below}, which is in the permanent collection of the JOSLYN Art Museum – JOSLYN Art Museum would be in my TOP 5 ART MUSEUM List, if I made one. The JOSLYN Art Museum is in Omaha, Nebraska, USA – Located in my Home State.

D) FREDERIC SACKRIDER REMINGTON (B. 4 OCTOBER 1861 – D. 26 DECEMBER 1909), was an American Painter, Sculptor, Illustrator, and Writer, and he specialized in characterizations of the American Wild West.

He, like Bierstadt, was a member of the Hudson River School of artists — Remington was a second generation member. He is best known for his images and sculptures focusing on cowboys, American Indians, and the U.S. Cavalry.

Remington’s and My Family’s Emigration Timelines are Similar:

Remington’s family arrived in the American colonies from England, in 1637, and they founded the town of Windsor, Connecticut.

My family, my LAMBERTSON family, emigrated from England around 1630, and first settled in the region that would become Accomac Shire, Virginia, in 1634.

● Interestingly (to me at least), my family, and Remington’s family, had very interesting ancestral characters.

Remington was a cousin to Eliphalet Remington, the founder of the oldest gun-makers in America, the Remington Arms Company.

Remington is also related to many early American Explorers – Me too.

Remington was related to three famous mountain men: Jedediah Smith, Jonathan T. Warner, and Robert “Doc” Newell.

In my family history, a distant BRERETON Family member of mine, (probably a Many-times Great Uncle (not completely confirmed, but definitely of my family Clan)), John Brereton (b. c.a. 1572) was an Adventurer/Explorer, and is credited for naming many of the place-names in Virginia. He was the first to document Cape Cod and its environs, in “Briefe and True Relation of the Discoverie of the North Part of Virginia in 1602”.

The famous, Captain John Smith, in his “Adventures and Discourses”, speaks about a Master John Brereton, “and his account of his voyage as turning his brains, and impelling him to cast in his lot with Gosnold and Wingfield, and make that later voyage which resulted in the planting and colonisation of Virginia, in 1607.” (WEB. “John Brereton” – Wikipedia).

Where was I….Getting back on track now….On a personal level, most importantly, Remington’s art really helped me imagine the Wild West.

Seeing his work, his bronze sculptures, was an amazing and time-consuming ritual for me during my university years, at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. I spent so much time on-campus, in the university library, Love Memorial Library, that it was like a second home for me. And lucky for me, I discovered that there was an art gallery on the 2nd floor of the library, called the Christlieb Gallery – which was home to the Christlieb Collection of Western Art.

The Collection consisted at that time, of works by Frederic Remington, Karl Bodmer, Karl Kauba, Gutzon Borglum, and many other artists and sculptors. It was quite the discovery for me. The Gallery provided a reprieve from the almost non-stop studying. I would go into the Gallery, and just walk slowly around Remington’s sculptures: These were authenticated casts of the originals – cast in bronze. The piece that I remember best, is “Bronco Buster” (1895) {See Below}, and what a magnificent sample of Remington’s skill as a sculptor, showing such detail and action! I’ve seen this piece at the Christlieb, and the JOSLYN.


E) JACKSON POLLOCK (B. 28 January 1912 – D. 11 August 1956), was a major innovator in the Abstract Expressionism movement, and member of the New York School of like-minded artists.

He is the originator of the ‘drip technique‘, using a very active rate of painting, most often never touching the canvas with the brush, or stick, or turkey baster.

Later in his professional career, he stretched out the canvas on the ground so he could move 360-degrees around the work, not to be restricted by anything. In addition to dripping paint, he would also pour, and splash paint on the canvas, preferring to use liquid household paints.

Because of the fast pace of his painting, his style has also been called, ‘Action-Painting‘, as it was so active, and fast. This was a characteristic of painting style used by many of the New York School. They were very aware of ‘expressing’ emotions in their works through use of colour and design—These artists wanted to evoke emotions in the viewer, with colour and design.

Pollock would incorporate other materials into his paintings, like broken glass, metal shavings, sand, blood (his own, from his feet when he broke glass bottles while painting and being drunk at the same time) – go figure!

The New York School, during the 1940s and 50s, was filled with some of my most favourite painters of all time – Pollock, Rothko, De Kooning, H. Hofmann, Gorky, Mondrian, and Chagall, just to name a few.

Peggy Guggenheim was a huge benefactor and cheerleader for Pollock’s work. Pollock was also friends with the major art critic of the time, Clement Greenberg, who wrote about Pollock’s work after seeing “Mural” (1943) for the first time, a work commissioned by Peggy Guggenheim,

“I took one look at it and I thought, ‘Now that’s great art,’ and I knew Jackson was the greatest painter this country had produced.”

His most famous works, coming from his “Drip Period” (from 1947 to 1950), made him famous. However, at the very peak of his fame, he abandoned his drip style and started working in darker colours: He even had a purely “Black Pouring” exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York, and disappointingly, none of the artworks sold, and that was in 1951. Pollock later returned to using colour and incorporated figurative elements in his work.

Unfortunately, his life was filled with bouts of alcoholism, chain-smoking, and a somewhat rocky marriage to Artist, Lee Krasner.

Krasner was greatly responsible for aiming Pollock in the right, “modern art” direction.

She was his main artistic judge, and she was responsible for introducing him to many powerful gallery owners. After Pollock died, she was also responsible for getting gallery owners to really garner high prices for Pollock’s work, but in many respects, she single-handedly was able to increase the value of the entire Abstract Expressionism art market.

It was during the period when Pollock was having in an affair with artist, Ruth Kligman, and he was also in a horrible period of alcoholism, everything came to a dreadful head. On 11 August 1956, while driving home from a party, going at recklessly high speeds, and being emotionally unsettled, Pollock crashed his car and was killed. Ruth and her friend, Edith Metzger, were also in the car, and Edith was also killed. Ruth was injured.

Pollock died at the young age of 44, way before his time….but who knows when their ticket will be punched, right?

All you have to do is look at the great majority of my Abstract Art Photography, and you will see the great influence that Jackson Pollock has been for me.

I would say my personal style is a mixture of mostly Pollock, but also, Rothko, Mondrian, and Hieronymus Bosch: Bosch is the ‘dark-side’ of my work.

The only Jackson Pollock work I have seen in person, is “Galaxy” (1947), which is in the JOSLYN Art Museum‘s permanent collection. It was a gift by Peggy Guggenheim.

When I saw “Galaxy” for the first time, I spent a lot of time watching it, and it was so very beautiful and amazing. It was from that point, that I knew I wanted to change my style, or at least, add to my artistic style, and start working on designing Abstract Expressionism Photography – And I did.

Below is a photo of “Galaxy” (1947), by Jackson Pollock.

According to the website,

“From the looks of its imagery, “Galaxy” – had begun in a similar vein to works of the previous year such as “Eyes in the Heat”. However, at some point in the process of painting, Pollock laid down his brush and began instead to drip and spatter his pigment, not quite completely covering the underlayer, into which he also embedded small pieces of gravel to increase the texture.”

● I think two of my favourite paintings by Pollock, are “Blue Poles” (originally titled, “Number 11” (1952)), and, “The Deep” (1953).

So there you have it: My Top 5 Most Influential Painters in my Professional and Personal Life. I will have to do other TOP 5 Art-Type Lists in the Future, but they do take some time to research, decide upon, and compose.