For several years when I was young, I studied ballet, and my grandmother gave me 4 Degas prints, which I adored. The below are two of my favorites. With the first one, I was simply fascinated with all of the action going on in the painting -- even the stationary figures (ex: the 2 men slumping in their chairs on the far right) exhibited 'action'. And so many little things going on in the painting - lots of sub-stories. Each of the characters is doing something, or anticipating something. With the second painting, I just liked the colors, and again, Degas captured the fluidity of the dancer - she almost seems to be moving in the painting.
The Rehearsal on the Stage
The Green Dancer
"...On and on and on and on he strode, far out over the sands, singing wildly to the sea, crying to greet the advent of the life that had cried to him." - James Joyce
I'm a big fan of the Wyeths... I saw Andrew Wyeth's work at the High museum in Atlanta a few years back and I was completely sent into another world with his amount of detail.
I wasn't much interested in Italian Renaissance art, but I just spent 10 weeks in Italy and saw much of the most famous of it. I have to say that Michelangelo's rendition of "David" was awe-inspiring. I spent 2 hours drawing it. Completely took my breath away.