On Art & Influence

By David Lussier

The work of the masters influences and inspires most artists. I've been drawn to the work of many painters and grown both personally and professionally from this connection. I've lived all my life in New England, yet I still see the beauty anew each time I watch waves crash, hear crisp amber leaves crunch underfoot or feel the wind bit my face after a new snowfall

When I was about 12, I was part of a class visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While my classmates were busy pushing each other and giggling in the museum's galleries, a fire was sparked within me after I viewed the paintings of John Singer Sargent. I actually went back several times to examine the details on his oil painting titled "Alpine Pool."

Just a few years later, I discovered the work of American impressionist J. Alden Weir and was startled to find out he had lived near my home and painted scenes I had grown up with. His painting called 'The Red Bridge' depicted a place where my friends and I played. He had found beauty and inspiration in the working class surroundings that were an integral part of my childhood and Weir's artwork and writings inspired me to incorporate a personally intimate style in my landscapes.

It was on another trip to New York City that I saw a George Bellows retrospective exhibit. His canvases were loaded with paint and color and seeing his work on exhibit was like receiving a personal invitation to explore color and use more expressive brushwork in my own paintings.

Then there is the work of Rockport painter Emile Gruppe. His three books on painting are some of the best ever written on the subject. Each was edited by noted painter/writer Charles Movalli, from whom I was privileged to take a workshop that changed my life. His demonstrations were riveting and so inspiring. I felt like I could really connect with his thought process. He later wrote an article about me for American Artist for which I am most grateful. I found him to be an ambitious and dedicated painter and inspirational teacher. For me personally, he was one of the finest American paintersever and his work will continue to live on.

I also had the privilege to learn from George Carpenter, a painter from Maine who died at his easel in 2006. I was moved by his work and learned to be patient as a student of his. Although he welcomed painting companionship from fellow artists, he discouraged too many questions that would interrupt the flow of his work. I painted beside him on a number of sojourns in northern New England and eventually he would call me over and start talking about his approach to that specific painting. His artistic advice helped me grow, while his storytelling was deeply engaging.

I've never forgotten that George Carpenter once told me that Emile Gruppe insisted painters had a responsibility to pass their knowledge and love of craft to others. That is why I continue to lead plein air workshops, hold studio classes and never tire of speaking to other artists about our chosen field.