My earliest inspiration was the first art teacher I connected with, Mr. Tim Martin back in 4th grade! He graduated from the same college I would go to and was from a program I would participate in at The College of NJ. He listened and encouraged me to be creative. He was my art teacher for only a couple of years and left for a job with the International Olympic Committee to do art. His influence on my artistic soul was profound.
(If you click the image, you'll see his website)
Art teachers are artists at heart. I found that making art, even along-side my students, keeps me refreshed and engaged. If I had a solo exhibition of my work in a gallery, it might look like a large group exhibition. Though I am known for my black and white figurative oils that have received some press, with one in the Obama White House collection, I am just as happy doing stained glass, blind drawings, pottery in a Japanese mode, tessellations, and everything else under the sun.
In my own work, I certainly gravitate towards some particular artists. Those who inspire me both as a teacher and an artist would include Jacque Louis David, Ingres, Hokusai, Warhol, Matisse, and Picasso. Perhaps you can see their influence in some of my artworks. Clean lines, organized composition, visual drama, and a pop of color run through all my pieces, and quite possibly my heart.
When we are excited about what we do as teacher's and artists, our students feel it. They sense when it is genuine and when we are "phoning it in." I find that staying creative, making works of art, and connecting to masters of the past, as well as those who have inspired us, keeps our creative flames burning.