FAQs: Who are your influences?

One of the questions artists often get asked is ‘Who are your influences?’. Simon is no different as people are curious about his training and inspiration. And so, we thought we would blog about it! Read on to discover some of Simon’s influences as a sculptor.

Who are you influences? Close up of Simon working on the face of a sculpture of a miner. It has a rough imperfect texture similar to influences like Degas or Rosso

Who are your Influences: Storytelling

The first of Simon’s influences is a little bit vague. He was trained in illustration, and at one time had plans to become a freelance illustrator of children’s books. He has had a love for a long time of storytelling, and this spills into all his sculptures. Simon always seeks to tell a story in his work, as if the viewer has been invited into a moment within a story.

Oak sculpture of Gollum from Lord of the Rings. He is holding two fish and has turned his head to look to his side, as if he has been startled by something.
This sculpture of Gollum is a great example of Simon creating a story through sculpture.

Who are your Influences: Anatomical Detail

Simon admires the work of Michaelangelo and Bernini for their attention to anatomy. In this blog about carving big cats, he talks of the importance of understanding anatomy. For example, the skeleton, how the muscles lie, and how the animal moves. This understanding is absolutely crucial to creating sculptures that are realistic and believable. Obviously this determines things like proportions and size. It also dictates angles of limbs, how far a head turns, where shadows fall, and more.

Who are your influnces? Photo shows David by Michaelangelo, one of simon o'rourkes influences in terms of his attention to anatomy
“David” by Michaelangelo is a classic example of the artist’s attention to anatomical detail

Who are your Influences: Impressionist Sculptors

Whilst Simon pays attention to anatomy in the same way as artist like Michaelangelo, it’s clear he has a very different style. If he had to categorise his style, Simon himself would consider himself more of an impressionist sculptor.

Who are your influences? Photo shows head of john the baptist; a sculpture by Rodin. It has a rough, imperfect finish that has influenced Simon O'Rourke
Head of John the Baptist by Rodin, one of Simon’s influences.

Impressionism in sculpture is a little harder to define than in painting. In fact, there are several different definitions, as this blog about Impressionist sculpture explains. A couple of key points though are ‘concentration on fleeting motion’, and an imperfect, loose, finish. This is seen in the work of artists such as Degas, Rodin and Rosso.

That unrefined finish or high level of texture is something of a trademark of Simon’s work. He frequently lets the natural texture of the wood show, or chooses to carve in a way that enhances the natural twists, turns and grain of the wood. This less refined finish is much more fitting to wood than trying to create something perfect. It really matches the aesthetic of the wood much better too than something more refined, as well as being more true to Simon’s love of the outdoors and nature.

For those interested in creating a similar effect in their work, this blog about Simon’s favourite tools has some tips and tools for achieving this finish.

who are your influences? photo shows a close up of a wizard carved in oak by simon o'rourke. it has a rough, unrefined and highly textured finish. This is close to the work of influences on him like Rodin and Degas.
The unrefined, textured finish to this wizard is inspired by artists like Rodin

Who are your Influences: Other Chainsaw Carvers

An obvious source of influence and inspiration is other chainsaw artists. Some of Simon’s favourite chainsaw artists include Hikaru Kodama from Japan, Scott Dow from Pennsylvania, US, and Chris Foltz from Oregon, US. He’s fortunate too to be able to call them friends! When it comes to chainsaw artists, there are numerous others too as you might expect – but far too many to name here!

what are your influences? Photo shows an intricate wood sculpture of a dinosaur by Scoot Dow. Scott is one of the chainsaw artists admired by fellow sculptor Simon O'Rourke
A recent piece by Scott Dow, one of Simon’s chainsaw artist influences

Who are your Influences: Final thoughts

As with any artist, it’s impossible to reduce influences to just one or two. Really, our influences end up being a lifetime of experiences and exposure to both the natural and created world. Light. Lines. Colour. Shapes. Books. Cinematography. Landscapes. These are just some of the things that we see around us every day, and process, and determine what is ‘beautiful’ to us.
So although we have narrowed down Simon’s influences to these three paragraphs, there is also a much bigger, fuller world that has influenced his art.

With that said, what are some of the things that influence you in your art? Drop us and let us know how you express yourself (music? drawing? dance? sculpture?) and who influences you. We’d love to know!

who are your influences? photo shows a close up of drapery/twisted cloth on a simon o'rourke sculpture. the unrefined, textured finish is reminiscent of impressionist influnces on him such as Rodin and Degas
The cloth on The Marbury Lady is another example of Simon’s loose, unrefined, textured aesthetic

If you love Simon’s aesthetic and would like your own sculpture, contact him via the form at www.treecarving.co.uk/contact/ to commission a piece or ask for more information.