Favourite painters + painters that inspire me 
January 21, 2019 at 10:00 AM
by Matt Kaplinsky
Matt Kaplinsky  Kitchen Elephant Ears   acrylic on

Art is my life, but it is also my business.

Not everyone gets to do what they love for a living but I feel very fortunate to be able to earn money bringing beauty and joy into people's homes and lives. As an artist and a business owner, I feel privileged to have my vision and work hanging on the walls of homes throughout the country.

Behind every work of art stands an artist, but behind that person lies innumerable stories of reflection, influence, and inspiration. Many find that those tales make their enjoyment and ownership of their art that much more special so I decided to share a bit of what makes me tick.

What Is My Style?

You could describe my artistic style as a convergence of European inspired impressionism and American folk. Impressionism dictates the overall look of the piece. Unlike many traditional European works in this genre, however, my themes often center on authentically American pastoral themes, such as snow-topped mountains and fields framing a weathered old trapper cabin. Even my abstract work is an “impression” of a faded memory, a feeling, or an experience.

Many of my works come directly from photographs that I take on my travels, which I then run through the interpretive lens of my art. What comes out is what I like to call “folksy impressionism.”

My goal is not too different from other artists, though. I want people to see my work, drop their jaw, and say oh my gosh! That is amazing! I want to create that “wow” level reaction.

Which Works Have Influenced Me?

Goya’s Third of May, 1808, both inspires and haunts me. Its origins lie in Spain’s desperate fight to win its freedom from a Napoleon installed tyrant, which they did succeed in doing. While I detest violence, the contrasts between extreme lights and darks combined with the darkness of the subject matter keep drawing me back.

I also enjoy Henry Matisse’s L’Atelier Rouge, known in English as the Red Studio. You probably could not find a painting more different than The Third of May, but I love them both. Vivid red dominates the canvas, punctuated with various items of furniture and wine bottles, evidence of relaxed living.

Which Artists Inspire Me?

Darkness and light intrigue me, which means that artists skilled in playing one off of the other often help form my strongest inspirations.

I really enjoy Kerry James Marshall’s works. Like Goya’s Third of May, Marshall’s paintings cover themes of repression and freedom, but this time of the American black community. Again, this artist uses stark contrasts of darkness and light to express his ideas.

David Bates produces powerful and relentlessly dark imagery, much of it related to proletarian and gritty rural themes. He also has an almost medieval disdain for perspective in his arrangement of human figures or landscapes. I like how his style always draws you back to the people featured in his compositions or the focus on his floral arrangements.

Some of the 19th and 20th-century classic artists also have helped to shape my artistic vision and expression. Obviously, as a self-described impressionist, I cannot leave out Monet. His takes on the use of color and his occasionally irreverent attitude toward other classical styles formed a powerful influence on myself and nearly every other artist who came after. Pablo Picasso went even further than Monet and annihilated the old school standards of artistic expression. I appreciate how he helped to pave the way for daring artists and their works that came after.

I hope that this little glimpse into my artistic mindset has enriched your understanding of my art. At the end of the day, art is how I communicate and express. The more you know about myself and my works, I hope, the more you will enjoy them.