I would describe myself as a mostly self-taught artist. I throw that “mostly” in there because, of course, I had to turn to people more experienced than myself so I could learn the things I didn’t know. This included people IRL (in real life) and (in the past several years) people who offer art inspiration or education online.
When I attended college, I studied to become a teacher. But I never wanted to turn my back on art completely! This is why I opted to minor in 2-D Art even though it had no bearing on my actual major. This meant I could attend drawing, painting, sculpture and Art History classes among my education classes. I did not have enough confidence in my artistic self at that time to study art as my major (although secretly I would have loved to!) But the Art Minor allowed me to learn from several working artists who inspired me, as most of the professors at my college were also professional artists.
One of the most exciting things I remember from that time? The connection my college had with a bona fide illustrator/author. Children’s book author Tomie dePaola lives and creates in the town where I attended college. He also has a history with the school dating back to the 60’s. We learned about his life and work while I was in attendance. I remember a talk he gave where we got to see his work and ask questions at the end. It was my first real brush with a working professional artist. Colby-Sawyer – Tomie
Even though I went on to become a teacher like I had planned, I still always carried that wonder with me. A “regular” person who got to do art for a living? #Goals! It became my secret/not-so-secret goal in life, even as I worked regular jobs.
As my focus on art returned in about 2015, learning online seemed to be my best option. I worked part time and spent the rest of my time on family, so “art time” was limited. Thanks to YouTube and individual artist websites, I was able to learn about many different art styles and techniques.
Artists Who Inspired me
The following people are some of my favorite artists who inspired me to watch or learn from online, in no particular order.
I took a class taught by Alena and Susan Tuttle, CoLab Artistry, on combining art and photography. Alena is an intuitive artist who uses lots of color and mark making in her work. I also have one of Alena’s books. The way she creates art is very loose and Zen and no pressure, which was great for me when I was just starting out and unsure about everything.
I liked how Alena’s work had many layers and she used stencils, ink, words, and shapes to create her paintings.
Alena’s Website: Alena Hennessy
Alena’s Book: The Painting Workbook on Amazon (Not sponsored or affiliate).
Susan was one of the first digital/mixed media artists who really captured my attention. She makes really cool digital art combining photography with photo filters and textures. I took the Co-lab class because I was already familiar with her style. I had her digital photography books, which helped me transition from scrapbooking to mixed media art. Plus, she was from (and lives in) my home state of Maine! While being an internationally recognized and published artist/author!
I used to sit and just page through her books when I had free time because I loved seeing how all the layers and images were put together to make art. It’s what inspired me to do this digital artwork combining photos I took of my daughter and a forest with different filters and effects:
Susan’s Website: Susan Tuttle Photography
I have two of Susan’s books:
Exhibition 36: Purchase on Amazon (Not sponsored or affiliate).
Digital Expressions: Purchase on Amazon (Not sponsored or affiliate).
Tamara Laporte (Willowing)
I came across Tamara when I saw ads for a class she offered named Ever After. It was a fairy tale-themed art class and I was hooked immediately. Each month had two fairy tale lessons taught by either Tam or a guest artist. Over the next few years I took several online classes offered by Tamara.
Her courses and videos are what got me really learning about mixed media art and all the different materials you could use (and how to use them). Her teaching style was so laid back yet detailed, it made you feel like you could actually do this art thing!
Even though I have progressed much further skill-wise since I took her classes, I am eternally grateful for the opportunity this gave me to do art and actually feel confident about it. I don’t think I would be doing what I am today if I hadn’t taken the plunge (and bonus, her classes are super affordable for all the amazing information and inspiration you get! It was sometimes overwhelming the sheer amount of material that was offered!)
Here are some of the projects I created while taking her classes:
Tamara’s website: Willowing Arts
Tamara’s YouTube: Willowing
I became obsessed with Leilani’s YouTube videos where she does time lapse painting videos of her artwork. And I also really liked how her style was a mix of strong female subjects in a more graphic art style. I bought a print of her painting of The Witches “Grand High Witch” because it was one of my favorite books and movies ever and who knew an artist would do a painting of it!? Also, she did a painting based on my favorite movie of all time “The Last Unicorn” so . . . I was hooked!
Leilani’s YouTube Channel: Miss Leilani Joy
Leilani’s Website: Leilani Joy
Yes, that Bob Ross. I rediscovered him on Netflix a few years ago and became hooked on his PBS show episodes (you can also find them on YouTube). It reminded me of being a kid and in awe of how simple he made painting look. Little did I know that he often created three separate versions of each painting for just one episode of his show! No wonder he is an artist who inspired me!
Also, just a few months ago I attempted a landscape painting in the style of Bob Ross and . . . folks, it’s not as easy as it looks! Even though now he is presented in somewhat of a joking manner (although it’s a highly revered joking manner), he was the first artist to do what he did so successfully: make everyone, regardless of who they were or where they came from, feel as though they were capable of creating something to be proud of.
Who could argue with that?
I discovered Jane while taking Willowing courses. I just loved her free style and colorful subjects. According to her online presence, she seems to be an art machine! She has products, videos, classes, books, and more. I think that is why her art and work inspires me, because it showed me that someone could spend their life creating art they love and have fun while doing it.
Jane’s Website: Jane Davenport
Beautiful Faces Book: https://janedavenport.com/shop/books/beautiful-faces-book/
Jane’s YouTube: Institute of Cute
I am 100% sure there are more artists who inspired me, but I think this is a good amount for this particular blog post! If you are interested in a “Part 2” where I introduce you to more interesting and inspiring artists, just leave me a comment below! Want to take a look at some inspiring artists from history? Check out my post 5 Artists From History Who Will Inspire Your Art
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