My top ten artists in order

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Yes, I wrote my artistic influences last month. But I decided to put some order to it.

And note, these are my personal influences. Not necessarily who I think are the absolute best artists in the world.

For example, Judas Priest is my favorite band. Do they write the best music ever? Well…

I associate Judas Priest’s music with some of the best times of my life. Still, to this day when a day is really magical, I’ll often make it even better by adding some Priest.

Barry Bonds though was the more extreme example. When he retired, I stopped watching baseball altogether. I can’t even name five active baseball players now.

Yes, I get it that he was the heel. I take his side because very few people know the whole story. To make a long story short, he’s always been the media heel because he grew up hating the media.

He’s very close to his dad, who was often the media scapegoat. His father is one of those borderline hall of famers who for some reason, the media just hated the guy. So Barry hated the media back and refused to do interviews.

I’m going off on tangents here. The point is this – these are my favorites. I have mine. You have yours. And you know what? If you got a similar list, let me know! I’d love to read it.

Cutting down to 10

Cutting down to 10 was a serious challenge. My wife and I were at a wedding in Maui several years back, and took a bus to Hana. The men sat at the back of the bus and spent an hour arguing the top five basketball players of all-time.

We ended up with a list of 15 players who were the top five basketball players of all-time. And had the worst time trying to get ten of these greats off that list.

That’s the problem I have. I cut this down to 22 and feel absolutely horrible not including more in my top 22. Now pulling ten from this list?

Here’s my 22 list (in no order whatsoever):

Roman's 22 favorites

Every single one of those artists influenced my work. Bosch was my early high school favorite. Then I really started studying fantasy – Waterhouse, Vallejo, Frazetta, Elmore, and Rackham.

I went through a pinup phase – Elvgren, Bernardinis, etc.

I went through a Renaissance phase – Leonardo, Michelangelo, etc.

I went through a pure beauty phase – Bouguereau, Folero.

I’m not going to go through every phase I went through. But most recently, I bought a bunch of limited prints of Michael Cheval’s work. He’s still alive and I love his work since it’s out there, and combines a musical/dance element that I really like.

Ten

American pinup artist Gil Elvgren.

Why?

He’s the one I’ve been ripping off most recently.

I’ve painted four different women now – Allie, Roxy, Sophia, and Jin. All four women have flipped through my Gil Elvgren book.

Years ago, when I first started taking my drawing seriously (I had been a cartoonist before that), my wife surprised me with a Gil Elvgren book from Barnes and Noble. I started drawing girls from his book. And when my models come over, if I don’t have an idea prepared, they’ll flip through the book and mimic a pose they like.

Most of my drawings don’t turn into paintings. I end up using them either for scratch paper or to wrap around my porcelain watercolor palette (as I use the same paints over and over and don’t want to get dust in them).

I honestly don’t know how many of my paintings ended up with variations of Elvgren’s girls’ poses.

Nine

Pre-Raphaelite co-founder and artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti married one of the most beautiful women in history – Lizzie Siddal. If you’ve heard my waltz Lizzie’s Opium Waltz, that’s about his drug addicted muse and later wife.

But it’s not about his deceased wife nor his other muses, as he had quite a few famous affairs in his lifetime.

It’s about his art. Rossetti was heavily into Medievalism, as am I. He painted Arthurian characters as well as going through various periods after that period. Which is fine as I expect artists to continually evolve.

I actually like all the periods he went through. His artwork was so, well, Pre-Raphaelite.

I’ll eventually gun for that style as I get more comfortable with greens and reds. Not yet though. I have a long way to go with colors.

Eight

Austrian Symbolist painter Gustav Klimt.

Why did I put him so high?

Once again, colors.

His stuff is weird and totally not my style. But, I wish I had his commands of yellow and especially gold.

I actually always paint Roxy with a golden necklace and Allie with a golden double bracelet on her left arm. Both in honor to Klimt.

I want to get more comfortable with yellows and golds. Klimt commands those colors like Tom Brady commands a clock eating, wearing down defense drive.

I love gold. No, not the metal. The color.

Seven

Spanish Romantic artist Francisco Goya. This was one of my first articles after bringing this blog back from the dead.

It’s funny because I had two Goya periods in my life.

The first was as a child. I came across a Goya book. Thumbing through it, I jumped back and quickly shut the book when I saw Saturn devouring his children. Most disturbing painting I’ve ever seen.

Saturn’s eyes – pure madness, as he’s eating a dead child.

I couldn’t get that image out of my head, despite only seeing it for a split second. Years later as a teenager, I re-opened another Goya book, just to see that painting again. I had watched quite a few horror movies and had built a tolerance for that stuff. Also, I won a few fist fights recently and built a bit of a gut (not meaning the protruding kind, but gut as in tough stomach).

Yes. It was as disgusting as when I saw it as a child. Pure madness. So disturbing.

Then decades later, my wife and I somehow ended up in the upper middle class. My wife one day turned to me and said we should start traveling the world with all this money. No, we’re not rich, but we definitely feel rich after both of our respective childhoods.

2015, we found ourselves in Madrid and I got to see a lot of Goya’s paintings in real life. I’ll just say that the books don’t do a single one justice. You absolutely have to see them in real life to appreciate them. Not the same at all.

Goya is better than Picasso and anyone who says otherwise is plain out wrong. Not dogging Picasso by any means. We saw his museum in Barcelona and it was fascinating to see how Picasso evolved throughout the years. We even visited that God awful modern art museum in Madrid just to see Guernica in real life.

Yes. Picasso is great. Way better in real life.

Goya? Even better.

Six

How the hell did I rank Falero over Goya? Like I said in the beginning, this isn’t a list of who I think the best artists of all-time are. If it was, Michelangelo would be number one.

This is a list of my favorites. And I absolutely love Falero, despite not being able to find shit about the man anywhere.

All I know is he died at 45, he loved astronomy, and had good times with beautiful women.

My obsession with Selene? Who you think I got the idea from?

The way he paints women. Nobody paints women quite like Falero. I love how they’re almost borderline erotic. I’ve crossed that line a few times but you won’t see those paintings in my lifetime (and you’re going to have to wait a very long time as I’m planning on living a very long time).

Five

French academic painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau.

Live long enough and your style will go out of style. As exactly what happened with Bouguereau. The avant-garde (most of whom were pretentious douchebags) hated him towards the end of his life and Bouguereau was almost forgotten.

Until the 1980s when people actually started having taste again. Now, his paintings sell for an arm and a leg. As they should.

His work is excellent. It’s the same subject matter that I love to paint – Classical themes and beautiful women. I do either Classical or Fantasy themes and beautiful women.

He’s more realistic though. I’m more stylized.

Still, a heavy influence on me? Huge.

You’ve seen both Allie and Roxy imitating Baigneuse, one of his paintings. Well, the 1870 version.

Four

Fairies. Valkyries. Beautiful women. Edward Robert Hughes, English artist, part Pre-Raphaelite, part Aesthetics. Weird, huh? Almost sounds like an English version of me.

That’s why I put him so high on this list.

Also, he has a better command of blues and greens than I do. I especially love his blues but his greens with the lady visiting the fairies really ranks high up there for my colors paintings.

As you can tell, I obsess with colors. But as much as I obsess with them, I struggle. I struggle to get the same command of blues that Hughes does. He can take a painting and make most of it blue, and it will still be absolutely fascinating. And that girl with the fairies painting – mostly greens and it’s still absolutely fascinating.

That’s a great artist right there. Can take one color. Split it into variations. And cover most of the entire painting with it. Yet, it’s not in the least bit boring.

I love also how he combined his Pre-Raphaelite past (nephew of one of the Pre-Raphaelites) with the Aesthetics present.

Philosophically, I’m sort of an Aestheticist. I want to make the world a more beautiful place. So I create miniature worlds that mimic the real world while delving into fantasy realms. And above all, I make them beautiful. It helps of course to have beautiful models to mimic.

Hughes has one foot in one room and one foot in another. And manages to pull off both brilliantly.

Three

American fantasy artist Frank Frazetta. A consistent favorite throughout my lifetime. Growing up, it was Frazetta, Boris Vallejo, Larry Elmore, and Michael Parks who inspired me the most via the fantasy genre. But it was Frazetta who was the biggest of all of them.

That remained consistent throughout my life. My son even bought me a Frazetta poster as everyone knows how much I love Frazetta.

I’ve heard some rumors that Robert Rodriguez is doing to do a live action movie of Fire and Ice. Will it really happen? I hope so.

I definitely want to hit the Frazetta museum. He’s an American icon. From movie posters to album covers to comics to Conan to of course, his paintings.

If I ever painted heroic men, I’d frantically study Frazetta’s work. His painted epic men, unashamedly masculine.

His women? Shapely. In the Classical sense. Often either damsels in distress or armed and dangerous.

Two

Slavic Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha.

I went to an art gallery back in December and almost walked away with a Mucha lithograph. Sure, they’re expensive, but it’s fucking Mucha man!

Sure, I’m a Romantic first and foremost. But I also don’t believe in limiting yourself to one style. Art Nouveau is post-Romantic. And it’s a lovely art style.

Nobody did girls quite like Mucha. Sadly, it’s not what Mucha wanted to be known for. I get it though. The whole Slavic Nationalist movement. If you knew what was going on at that time, you’d know the importance of it.

Yes, he got interrogated and he eventually died in 1939.

But let’s roll back. Despite not being proud of the Art Nouveau era, that’s the era of his works that inspired me the most. The Mucha Girls.

Lovely, feminine, long hair, often red-headed. Often with flowers in their hair.

These girls were the epitome of what I’m currently gunning for. Allie and Roxy are Roman’s Girls and hopefully in the Afterlife, I’ll be able to drink with Mucha and have a few stories and laughs about our girls.

Alphonse Mucha - The Arts: Music
A Mucha Girl. The Arts – Music

I need more sales. The only thing that was keeping me back from buying that lithograph in December was finances. I’m still paying off my failed business that went under in 2017.

It’s been a fun three years since. But financially brutal.

I’m by no means perfect. A talented composer. A talented artist. A great husband and father. A trustworthy friend. An excellent investor.

But I can’t run a business worth a damn.

Had I not been paying off these debts still, I’d have more than one Mucha lithograph up in the house.

Mucha’s Girls mean the world to me artistically. I cannot overstate how much Mucha influenced my own works.

One

There’s only one above Mucha. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you already know who it is.

Pre-Raphaelite artist John William Waterhouse. I used to work in the mall. I was in Heavy Metal bands and had real long hair.

Certain jobs at the time wanted you to cut your hair. So I had to take what I could take. Physical labor jobs. And working at the mall.

My mall had a poster shop that had some real cool art. I specifically fell in love with one painting, which was everything I artistically believed in growing up. Fantasy, beauty, aesthetics, it had everything.

The piece?

Waterhouse - La Belle Dame Sans Merci
Waterhouse – La Belle Dame Sans Merci

Wait. Did I say piece?

I meant pieces. And…

Waterhouse The Lady of Shalott
Waterhouse – The Lady of Shalott

Everything about Waterhouse. His themes. His beautiful women. Fate. The works themselves. The backdrops. The settings.

Everything he did.

To this day, my favorite artist.

With each painting, I dare to do something new. Something that pushes me further along in my journey.

If there’s one artist I’d love to emulate more than any other, it would be Waterhouse.

This hasn’t changed since I worked in the mall and saw those two paintings.

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