I have a lot of favorite artists, but the one that is most often at the top of my list of influences is Rien Poortvliet. Many who have heard of him are likely most familiar with his work as an illustrator. His most popular book in the United States is Gnomes. The book that I treasure is his work on Noah's Ark, and if you ever get the chance to page through it, you might agree with me that his paintings do not seem to fit the usual "illustration" category. Not only finished paintings are shown, but also sketches and studies that let you see the world through his eyes as he studied and recorded on the page what he experienced.
Poortvliet was a Dutch artist, and had an incredible talent for drawing at a young age. He lived from 1932-1995, passing away from bone cancer. He was an avid hunter and outdoorsman too, but he was a keen naturalist and loved God's creation, and gave Him the glory in his art and writing. He had such an ability to create almost abstract work, yet with a realism that made the animals he portrayed seem to breath, and you could guess their next move. This quote from him is close to my own heart: "I use my talent to show people how brilliant a hare can jump, how lovely the dear Lord created evenings and sunsets or blizzards or storms or snow or a roe feeding her fawn. That's my favorite joy."
And it is a joy, as his art reflects just how much he respected the created world. He knew it well because he spent much of his time observing the outdoors. My book on Noah's Ark is well worn; in it he depicts Noah working on the ark, but mostly the animals that came to the ark. In their habitat, going about their lives, hunting, waiting, mating, fleeing, intimate and natural.
As an artist, he was a master of composition, and I am so inspired to attempt to capture his treatment of light and mood in a landscape in a similar way.
According to the Rien Poortvliet Museum in Zuid-Beijerland, South Holland, Poortvliet wrote 25 books. Other books I highly recommend are Horses, and Dogs. Unfortunately, most of his books are not readily available in the U.S. but if you happen to find one, snatch it up! Hopefully it will also be a source of inspiration for you, too.
Art has always been a part of my life, and I have worked in many different mediums.