From Mona Lisa to Jackson Pollack splatters and O’Keeffe horizons, every artist had to start somewhere. While many of today’s most recognizable artisans carry a style as instantly identifiable as their names, many of them looked to the greats preceding their legacy in order to better understand and develop their own methods and aesthetics. Below you will find just a few of those individuals and their inspirations— don’t be surprised if you start feeling a little inspired yourself.

Ellen Harvey
Ellen Harvey, a Brooklyn-based artist who works in a variety of mediums including painting, installation, video, and performance, cites early childhood encounters with art as life-changing. Harvey recalls trips to European art museums where she first discovered pieces like Rogier van der Weyden’s The Last Judgment (1445–50) in the Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune in Burgundy and Botticelli’s La Primavera (ca. 1477–82) and Birth of Venus (ca. 1485) in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. It was after these meetings that Harvey realized she wanted to be an artist, and moreover, the point when she remembers beginning to draw obsessively. The impact of early childhood encounters with art remains a consistent theme in artists recalling their greatest influences.

Pat Steir
Pat Steir, an American painter, and printmaker, is best known for her abstract “drip” paintings, recalls reprints of art pieces in Skira Editore books as her juvenile enchantment. “All the colors had an orange or green cast,” she says, reminiscing on the primeval four-color printing process. “I thought I could never be an artist, because how could I control the green and orange colors? It seemed hopeless.” Then, she discovered Cézanne, an esteemed French Post-Impressionist who helped lay the groundwork for art styles at the turn of the 19th century. “I almost passed out,” she describes when she first saw his piece, The Bather (ca. 1885). “It wasn’t all green, and it wasn’t all orange. It was totally human.”

David Kimball Anderson
For David Kimball Anderson, a photographer, and sculptor, it wasn’t paintings hung in galleries nor paintings inked onto pages that snagged his curiosity— it was items encountered on road trips and visits to foreign cities. This method began in the barbershop, where he received haircuts as a child. On the wall of this particular barbershop, hung a painting of a covered bridge in New England. This image struck Anderson so emotionally that it compelled him to begin creating works comprised of objects that, when arranged together, could evoke the geographical aesthetic and memory of a certain place.

About The Author
Anatoly Vanetik is an Entrepreneur, Businessman, and Art History Enthusiast in Orange County, California. Anatoly’s accomplished and diverse professional background has helped him become known as an elite venture capitalist and businessman. In recent years, Anatoly has focused on his passions, which include animal welfare and art history. As part of his commitment to share his insight, Anatoly Vanetik created a monthly blog on animal welfare, as well as a monthly blog on art history.

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