An update on my art project and the influences behind it is one of my most favorite blogs. Over time, after years of reading his short M-F posts, I think his thoughts on art and making art have kind of seeped into my perspective. One idea that definitely has is “Scenius,” which is a word created by musician and producer Brian Eno. “Scenius” says that art and inventions are never one person’s brilliant idea. They’re all built on contemporary and historical influences, whether consciously or not.

As I’ve been working on my art project, I’ve been trying to mentally keeping track of the different shoulders the piece is standing on. The heart of the series is the book The New Odyssey by Patrick Kingsley. Kingsley is a journalist, and in 2015, during the European migration crisis, he traveled along with refugees as they made journeys from Africa and Asia towards Europe. I think it was one of the books that I most needed to read last year. I almost typed that it completely changed my mind, but that’s not accurate because I didn’t know enough beforehand for my mind to be changed.

Even while reading it, I thought to myself that this was something I should build my art project on. But I couldn’t see how, so for the first six weeks or so of the school year, I pursued another idea. But then I pivoted to this book.

Visually, the biggest influence came from this Instagram account, @_maggiestephenson_. Both the color palettes I chose and the style of overlapping, changing tones are from her work.

For the words being pushed and pulled apart so that it’s harder to read, that was inspired by this painting by Christopher Wool.

At first, I had no intention to mess up the words’ spacing and make them more confusing, but my teachers suggested it, and now I think it would have been much worse if I hadn’t.

The New Odyssey, Maggie Stephenson, and Christopher Wool were the three main influences for what I drew, but just as important my teachers helping me with how I drew them. Ideas are good and all, but the right tools help you from going crazy. They’ve seriously saved me from spending even more time on these projects twice now.

The first was when they told me to use a combination of tracing paper + transfer paper to draw the people. If you haven’t used transfer paper, it’s this paper that has colored graphite on side. So let’s say you want to trace the outlines of a printed image onto another piece of paper. Those are the bread slices of the sandwich. The transfer paper is the ham. So if you put the transfer paper with the graphite side face down, it will leave marks wherever you draw on the top slice of paper.

The second time was when one of my teachers told me that Home Depot sells small cans of paint sample colors for very cheap. At the beginning, I had bought small tubes of painting paint, and it had taken time to keep mixing the right colors, and they ran out too quickly. The paint sample jars are way better. This needs to be something every art student is told about. I’m not sure exactly how much they were, but it was around 2-3 dollars per jar.

I’m not sure how much I’ll remember from senior year classes, but I’m going to have learned how to paint letters in a specific font.

Any podcast recommendations that I should listen to while painting?
Do you follow illustrators on instagram?
Are you able to parse out the influences behind one of your stories/artworks/ideas?
Please feel freedom to go on and on for this question, I really want to know.

2 thoughts on “An update on my art project and the influences behind it”

  1. This is so cool. I love the artwork–and the Christopher Wool one? Who thinks of these things??
    It’s always fascinating to me to try and trace my stories back to their inspirations. It’s also interesting how sometimes the thing that gives me the spark of inspiration doesn’t end up having that much influence over the actual story. I have one story where the first spark came from a random song lyric. The story idea had nothing to do with the rest of the song, but I probably never would have written it if I hadn’t listened to that song. As far as things that actual influence the story itself, I sometimes can’t even identify them until I’m deep into the book–or even after I’ve finished. I was looking back at one of my books the other day and I was like, “Wait a minute, I wrote this not long after I read A Thousand Perfect Notes, didn’t I? That definitely influenced this.”
    Ooh, I should tell my painter friend about those Home Depot sample jars 🙂


  2. This is so cool.
    I love the pieces and the story behind them. Your influences are fascinating and I really like your style of painting people.
    I don’t know what else to say but know that I think this is really really cool XD


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