Updated: Sep 19, 2021
As an art student, I loved my art history classes. Most of my peers found them to be dull, but I found them to be fascinating! It was incredible to see the beginning of art within human history and watch it transform into what we get to see in galleries today. Moreover, I think it’s important to learn the roots of what you love so you can have a deep, thorough understanding about what it is that you’re doing. It gives it so much more depth and meaning.
And because I love art history so much, I want to share some of my favorite artists with you. Hopefully they’ll inspire you! Or, at the very least, give you something interesting to read about.
“If I have done anything, even a little, to help small children enjoy honest, simple pleasures, I have done a bit of good.”
Beatrix Potter was introduced to me when I was a very young girl. I had a pop-up book of Peter Rabbit and a miniature set of her completed works. I adored her work then and even more now. And while we might all know her for the cute illustrations and fun stories about animals, she was quite the force when she was alive.
As a young girl, Potter spent summers exploring Scotland and the Lake District, in which she first discovered her love of flora and fauna. She created many illustrations of the species she studied. As an adult, Potter contributed a great deal to the field of mycology. Her work wasn’t taken seriously by some, due to being a woman in the Victorian age. Regardless, she donated her work to the Armitt Museum and Library and has since been published in a book on fungi. And mycologists still use her work to identify fungi to this day.
One of her biggest accomplishments - outside of her work - was land conservation and the preservation of fell farming. During her life she acquired quite a bit of land and worked very hard to preserve it. She left nearly all of her land to the National Trust, allowing them to preserve it and include it in the Lake District National Park.
Beatrix Potter was truly amazing! Her love of the natural world fueled her daily life and her work. Just goes to show outside passions are just as important as the work itself.
“An artist must never be a prisoner. Prisoner? An artist should never be a prisoner of himself, prisoner of style, prisoner of reputation, prisoner of success, etc.”
I remember the exact moment I truly fell in love with art. I was a junior in high school, and my art teacher had just put up a slide of “The Open Window” by Henri Matisse. That moment changed everything.
Matisse was a leader of the Fauvist movement (one of my favorite movements), and is most remembered for his works during this artistic period. But I think one of the most inspiring things about his career was his ability to adapt to his changing circumstances.
In 1941, he was diagnosed with duodenal cancer and underwent surgery. He experienced serious complications after his surgery, and was bed ridden for three months. But during this time, he continued to create new work! He refused to allow his unfortunate situation keep him from creating. And it was during this exploration that he created his notorious paper collage works.
If there’s any artist that is the full embodiment of exploration, adaptation, and determination, it’s Matisse.
Vincent Van Gogh
“Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.”
Yes, yes, everyone loves Van Gogh. He’s almost so famous that he’s not famous anymore. But I truly love Van Gogh’s work. In fact, “Starry Night” was one of the first paintings I ever loved. His name also comes with a certain connotation, but this man might possibly have touched the art world more than any other artist in western history.
And do you know what’s crazy? Van Gogh didn’t decide to be an artist until he was 27 years old. He then dedicated himself to his work for the next decade before he sadly took his own life. But during this short period, he created over 2,000 pieces!
His work never gained popularity while he was alive. In fact, he was very unsuccessful, living in poverty near the end of his life. After his death, however, his work went on to influence the Fauvist and German Expressionist movements. And his paintings are now some of THE most expensive paintings in the world.
And while Van Gogh might be the inspiration behind the starving artist trope, he never gave up the love of his craft. And he didn’t let age dictate his path, either. He's a standing reminder that you’re never too old to start something new.
I hope you enjoyed getting to know some of these brilliant minds a little better! These are just a few of the artists I admire, and I'll be sharing more of my favorites in the future.
Remember, you can subscribe for blog and newsletter updates with the form at the bottom of the page. I post blogs weekly and send newsletters out once a month!
Thanks for reading and happy creating!