A few days ago, my friend and fellow art director Carlo Arellano decided to track down his artistic lineage — which also means he tracked down a major portion of mine, as we share a couple of teachers.
The first, Donn Morris, was our high school art teacher, a thankless task. All Carlo and I wanted to draw were warriors, dragons, and people wearing as little clothing as possible. Mr. Morris had other ideas for our class projects — namely, what he enjoyed drawing — Western scenes in which cowboys, missions, and mules figured largely. It seemed like we spent the first two years of art class constantly arguing why we should be able to draw something that was not a mission. I'm not sure how we wore him down, but eventually he gave in. Or maybe he figured that since we were rushing to get our assignments done and then would sneak in what we wanted to draw, that we'd do it anyway. Looking back, it must have taken an immense amount of patience, not to mention kindness, to put up with the two of us when we were teenagers.
The second teacher, Jeff Watts, luckily didn't have to teach both me and Carlo in the same class. Instead, Carlo pointed me to Watts Atelier when he was bludgeoning me to go back to art school.
If I hadn't gone to Watts, I'd never have met my teacher Ron Lemen, and my life would be infinitely poorer for it. It would take a novel to fully go into how much I owe to Ron, how much of an influence he's been in my life, and how much I love him. (I love him to bits, despite all the times I wanted to stab him in the eye with my brush for making me paint Yet Another Fucking High-Chroma Still Life.)
Erik Gist, one of the teachers at Watts, made this artistic family tree. It goes all the way back to Fra Angelico, and contains masters like Dean Cornwell, Howard Pyle, Bridgman, Bougereau, Gérôme, David, Titian, and Bellini. I wish I had more information from Ron's side of the family tree, which adds Sebastian Capella, but I'm lost after that.
So, you know, no pressure or anything.