I think, maybe, if I show you what it is I really like as far as art goes you will have a better idea of what I'm reaching for, and how really terribly far away it seems sometimes. And if you're not interested, you can always come back later for more pictures of hotties.
First, I like realism. I like representative art. That is, art which attempts to create the visual impression of a real object or scene. I enjoy abstract art from time to time, as well as stylized art, but the stuff that I really love always seems to be that which looks real, or close to real. And yet, photographs are not nearly as appealing to me as paintings, in general. I like good photographs, and I understand the skill involved (having tried, halfheartedly, to take pictures myself from time to time), but paintings give me more. This is probably related to the next thing I'm going to talk about.
That next thing is... well, I don't know a good word for it. Looseness? Performance? Economy? In spite of loving to see a work that looks real at one level, I also love to see the brush strokes. In digital works this translates into things like Craig Mullins' pictures, which when inspected closely seem to be wild blobs of color, but when you pull back resolve themselves into wonderful, dramatically real images. I like painters who combine realism with this abandon, this apparent love of the brush stroke, painters like Gregory Manchess or Carol Marine.
I like dramatic compositions that play with splashes of color and light. But then again, who doesn't?
You may wonder, now, about the comic book artists that fill my list of bookmarks. Well, there are connections. Many of my favorites are realistic artists, in one way or another. Joshua Middleton gets me with his fine understanding of the human figure, among other things. Adam Hughes and Alex Ross both bring an almost photographic quality to some of their work. Even Phil Hale treats his often surreal subjects with an attention to realism. You'll also notice Alphonse Mucha and J. C. Leyendecker in my list, artists who stylized quite dramatically at times, but still maintained some essential connection to realism. This stylized realism, or in some way perfected realism, is another aspect of many of my favorite artists, and what I think attracts me to certain comic book artists as well as past art-deco masters and even certain illustrators from the middle of the 20th, like Rockwell or James R. Bingham (profiled (again) last week on Today's Inspiration).
Sometimes my likes pull me in seemingly opposite directions. One part of me wants to paint and render with rich colors in blobs and chunks, while another part longs for smooth clean lines, dramatic blacks, and smooth flats of the comics. Of course, all of this might seem moot when I really can't manage any aspect of that to my satisfaction. Still, it does seem to me sometimes that my internal debates may have made it even harder.
Anyway, we'll get back to the hotties shortly, or some pictures of tangerines or something.