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  • Writer's pictureSarah Loutfi

Ya Didn't Even Know You Were An Influencer

There are many artists who inspired me on the journey with my art. The first major influence I can remember was introduced to me by my 8th grade teacher when we studied the works of the Group of Seven. The Group of Seven were a group of eight Canadian artists who toured the country drawing land and city scapes.

A lot of the artist in the group were interesting painters, but I remember being really enthralled with the work of Lawren Harris. There was something about his semi-realistic, semi-abstract landscapes that really spoke to me. I loved his use of light and colour and shape. The compositions were always really beautiful. Looking at his work for the first time, ignited that really guttural love for art that I had not had up until that point. It was like being knocked out (sort of).

I did a few studies of his work while I was in class and wrote a small report on his work and the aspects of the art I liked.

After Lawren Harris, I didn't find much for inspiration. We were still just at the dawn of the digital age and unfortunately I wouldn't have even known where to look for the art I might like anyway.

Many, many years later, probably actually not really that long ago (maybe 6 or 7 years ago) I found this painter on YouTube who was doing some really interesting abstract art (zacherfinet). I found that inspiring in the same kind of pit in my gut kind of way. I loved the way the paintings moved and had so much vibrancy. They were wild, and I loved that. Her work was so much less controlled than Lawren Harris' work. It was so much bolder and freer while still being composed.

I tried to 'study' abstract work, but that really didn't go well. I tried to make more confident and bolder strokes and still have it be someone representational, but I just couldn't make it work. Even my 'freer' attempts at painting were (regrettably) controlled. I hung up my paint brush after a few attempts at trying to make abstract work.

A few years later, I discovered the podcast Art Juice (a podcast by two abstract artists) because I was still interested even though I couldn't seem to break into the type of art, even with taking classes. I was too rigid to capture the freedom I found abstract art brought to the table. In one of the many episodes I listened to, they mentioned how most artists who are representational end up doing abstract works of art later in life. I knew that that was exactly how it happened for Lawren Harris. I thought that maybe that would be what happened for me. So rather than try to force myself into learning abstract art from abstract artists, I would push my own work outside of my comfort zone bit-by-bit by exaggerating shapes and gestures, etc.

When I finally got my iPad, I felt not ideal about sharing my sketchbook with all of my friends and family. I didn't know how many of them were really interested and I didn't want to blast their feed with a new piece of work every other day, especially when I wasn't that good yet. This is where I decided to start my art instagram page. Initially as a place to share my art sketches as I was improving. I quickly realized I had a lot to learn because my art instagram expanded because of the hashtags I used. I found a plethora of other artists whose work inspired me in many ways. Like, I'm sure, just about every artist everywhere I discovered Loish.

It wasn't her characters that really appealed to me necessarily, but her landscapes. There was something about them that harkened back to Lawren Harris' work but pushed further. The character was secondary to the environment they were exploring and I loved that. It was like she had plunked me down in the landscape and I was feeling all the emotions wrapped up in that moment. Upon doing some research, I discovered that she had studied animation.

That's truly where I got to where I am now. More recently, I have been watching the works of Aaron Blaise and listening to Tom and Tony Bancroft, and got Disneys Illusion of Life book. I have been trying to absorb as much as I can. A lot of animation is about exaggeration and timing. I'm still learning and studying and hoping I can make some really evocative pieces of art moving forward. I'm still being inspired and taking action. Maybe someday I will be writing about this point in time and moving in another direction, but its all an adventure isn't it?



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