Tag Archives: figurative art

The Age of Innocence: Jessica Maria Manley

5 Oct

While Mr. Forager & I are on the road, making our way to California, we’re rerunning Artsy Forager’s most popular posts.  This post originally published on January 23, 2012.  Enjoy!

The other night, we caught a bit of a Travel Channel show in which Andrew Zimmern visited a tribe in Madagascar, whose ritual tradition dictates that a boy becomes a man at the age of five years old.  Jewish boys celebrate coming into manhood with a Bah Mitzvah at age thirteen.  The work of photographer Jessica Maria Manley explores the idea of whether societies can truly define what is appropriate based solely on an individual’s age.  Is a boy really a man at five? Thirteen? Twenty-one? Forty-five?

At the Lake

Manley’s haunting images of her young subject, Melissa, show the young girl engaging in those activities so many little girls enjoy– playing dress up, playing with make-up, pretending to be grown-ups.  How many of us did the same?

Melissa and Her Toys

Some of the imagery may be a bit off-putting, even disturbing as we see a little girl exploring an adult’s world.  But how often are children thrust into situations beyond their years?  Or they feel pressured to be tiny adults?

Make-up In the Living Room II


Manley’s images may be a visual representation of the societal pressures kids feel every day, in every nation.  They could also be interpreted as imaginings of a woman who is chronologically an adult, but still feels the vulnerability and smallness of a child.. A woman whose childhood was robbed of her.

To see more of Jessica Maria Manley’s intriguing work, please visit her website.  Her provocative photos touched me, hope you find them as thought provoking as I did.

Featured image is On the Dock, 2011.  All images are via the artist’s website.

Artsy on Escape Into Life: Gavin Lavelle

2 Oct

While I adore abstract expressionist work full of large, sweeping strokes, I do occasionally want to gaze upon work that you really need to consume.  Work so full of rich layers and details that makes you want to study it, taking in every symbol and nuance.  So of course, when  Irish artist Gavin Lavelle emailed me his work, it felt so rich, so Bosch-like, I couldn’t wait to share it.  Lavelle is featured in my Artist Watch over on Escape Into Life today, so head on over there and gaze awhile.  You’ll be mesmerized!

Eden 85 by Gavin Lavelle

Gavin Lavelle on Escape Into Life

Alien Nation: Fidencio Martinez

24 Sep

Living the way we do, Mr. Forager and I are no strangers to feeling like outsiders in a new place.  We try to make a new town home every three months.    I can only imagine how difficult it must be to move to a completely new country, where perhaps you don’t even speak the language or where you noticeably stand out due to the color of your skin.  The work of Mexican-born Memphis artist Fidencio Martinez deals with such feelings of social alienation, assimilation and isolation.

Clandestino, acrylic paint and newspaper, 12×12

Although Martinez’s figures tend to be Latino or indigenous, we’ve all likely experienced some level of isolation.  Yet do we really have any idea what it might be like to be live in a place fraught with danger, one you flee in order to be able to live your life free of fear?

A Coup Beneath Meek Flores, mixed media, 12×12

Nos Caimos Como Balas, mixed media, 12×12

What if, when all you wanted was to be able to live a quiet, happy life in your new world, you were constantly met with hate and prejudice?  Would you be able to accept such treatment with a sanguine attitude?

La Cosecha de Su Vida, mixed media, 24×36

Can you relate to Martinez’s work?  When do you feel like an outsider?  You can see more of Fidencio’s work on his website and be sure to check out his Etsy shop for his available work for sale!

Artist found via Clair Hartmann.  Featured image is Teal Fields in Skin Seas, mixed media, 12×12.  All images are via the artist’s website.

Outsider Beauty: Margaret Bowland

20 Sep

Coming from the South, I had this image in my mind of the Northwest– open minded and full of diversity.  And it is like that, in major cities like Seattle and Portland.  But in the small towns we’ve lived in and especially for the last 10 months spent in Coeur d’Alene, ID, we’ve found diversity pretty hard to come by.  We get used to all of the faces looking like ours.  The work of New York artist Margaret Bowland explores what it means to be beautiful outside the expected standard– tall, thin, white.

Flower Girl #2, oil on linen, 48×48

Bowland contends, via her artist statement, that “being beautiful is as as important as being rich, that being beautiful is itself a form of wealth.”  Women have, for centuries, tirelessly sought to conform to the celebrated standard of beauty at the time. Bowland’s images of young black girls with sad, painted faces convey what it must be like to be asked by society to put a mask over your own unique beauty in order to be accepted.

Color, pastel and charcoal on paper, 37x 48

Portrait of Kenyetta and Brianna, oil on linen, 72×80

We feel compelled either by our environment or by ourselves ( or more likely a combination of the two ), to comply to what we are told is beautiful.  Stay hungry all the time to be thin, dye your hair, whiten your teeth, don’t be too pale.. don’t be too dark.  When will we, as individuals and as societies realize that to homogenize beauty only serves to promote what is ugly within ourselves.

Flower Girl, oil on linen, 44×52

To see more of Margaret Bowland’s work, please visit her website.

Artist found via Artist A Day.  All images are via the artist’s website.

Friday Finds: Anthropomorphically Artsy

14 Sep

These last four months of living on a lake in Northern Idaho has had its advantages, wildlife spotting being chief among them.  A favorite post-dinner activity of Mr. Forager & I is to take a long walk in the hopes of spotting a few deer, osprey, rabbits and lately, turkeys(!).  While Mr. F loves to fantasize about how awesome it would be to be a bird of prey, I tend to humanize the animals we see.  I like to think they are more like us than we realize.  Today, I’m featuring a few artists who seem to also love blending the line between humanity and the animal.

To Fall for Flattery by Nate Frizell

Beyond the Menagerie by Kareena Zerefos

Renard by Charlotte Caron

Sabrina Hornung

Nate Frizzel | Kareena Zerefos | Charlotte Caron | Sabrina Hornung 

I would love to commission Charlotte Caron to create a portrait of Mr. Forager as a grizzly bear– it would be his ultimate dream come true!  What animal do you see yourself as?

Charlotte Caron found via The Jealous Curator, Sabrina Hornung found via Lost at E Minor.  All images are from the artist’s websites, linked above.

Face Paint: Greg Hart

11 Sep

The advent of photography has really shaped us into an incredibly visual society.  While having a portrait painted was a luxury usually afforded to the most privileged, photographs were soon accessible to people of all classes and incomes.  Photography became a common experience, faces of us all, captured forever.  Charleston artist Greg Hart takes his inspiration from historical portraits, concentrating on the emotional expression of the sitter.

Bandage, charcoal, graphite, coffee, acrylic, oil and gesso on wood panel, 11×14

Hart pours through historical archives, searching for a face that grabs him.  He strives to remain ignorant of the details of each person’s background, preferring instead, to give us new portraits, carrying the same emotional intensity made even more impassioned by color blocking and dramatic rendering against isolated backgrounds.

Firebrand, graphite, acrylic and coffee on paper, 15×22

Bygone, mixed media on paper, 22×30

Serious, stern faces are rendered more warmly, softly reminding us that behind these steely facades are real people who lived and loved, just as we do.

Forward March, mixed media on wood panel, 9×12

To see more of Greg Hart’s work, please visit his website and be sure to check out his shop at Big Cartel to make one of these intriguing portraits your own!

Featured image is Firebrand ( cropped ).  All images are via the artist’s website and Big Cartel shop.

This Lovely Life: Janet Hill

3 Sep

I love artwork that transports me into a different world.  The paintings of Ontario artist Janet Hill  gives us a peek at a sweet and beautiful life, where all is loveliness and cheerful color.


Her figures, lovely and graceful, entrance and enchant, her palette of sepias punctuated with bright, saturated color takes us back in time like faded photographs.


General Custard

Hers is a world that feels like that magical afternoon hour.. you know the one.. when the sunlight is just the right shade, streaming through the window and giving everything in its path a magical glow.  A world that is accessibly glamorous, where even the most mundane task is done with delicious joie de vivre!


Seriously, doesn’t her work just make you smile?  See more of it on her website and in her Etsy shop– lots of beautiful, affordable prints to be found!  Perfect for girlie girls, big and small.

Featured image is Lady and the Lobster.  All images are via the artist’s website.

Contemporary Muses: Hope Gangloff

20 Aug

There are certain times, especially when he lays on the floor for a power nap, that I long to break out my charcoal and sketch my husband.  I’m moved to capture the beauty of his face and his peaceful position.  As I’ve mentioned, figure drawing took me a while to master but once I did I truly began to see the magic in the body of each person.  Our expressions, our posture, our countenance is all unique to who we are.  The paintings of Hope Gangloff capture every day moments of ordinary people, rendering them in an extraordinarily beautiful way.

Her figures in repose, bear stylistic resemblance to masters such as Schiele, Matisse, Cassatt and Toulouse-Lautrec.

Queen Jane Approximately, acrylic on canvas, 108.5×67.5

But these are contemporary muses, this is the way we live now.  Friends come over and take their shoes off and relax with us, the parlor has been replaced by the kitchen and the patio.  Conversations remain unchanged– we talk politics, relationships, art and music.

Catherine Despont, acrylic on canvas, 48×72

Upstate Neighbor ( Gavin Anderson ), acrylic on canvas, 84×56

Gangloff’s figures are familiar.  They are our friends, our neighbors, our world.  To see more of Hope Gangloff’s work, please visit her website.

Artist found via Booooooom.  All images are via the artist’s website.

Dreams of Doris Day: Tracey Sylvester Harris

16 Aug

In my much younger years, many a Sunday afternoon was spent glued to the television, enraptured by the movies of my parent’s generation.  Each one filling my impressionable mind with images of the perfectly coiffed hair, sophisticated fashions and charming coquettishness of starlets like Doris Day, Audrey Hepburn and Leslie Caron.  The work of California artist Tracey Sylvester Harris hearkens back to those glamorous days of my dreams.

Convertible, oil on canvas, 24×30

Those old films and their heroines led me to believe in a world in which women wore heels to the swimming pool, men were redeemable rakes and an awkward bookworm could be transformed into a beautiful swan.

Light Blue Slip, oil on canvas, 60×40

Starlet, oil on canvas, 60×40

They caused me to prance around our house in my mom’s high heels and a floating negligee dreaming of the glamorous and romantic life I would lead when I grew up.  But soon, reality taught me its hard lessons and I realized that the worlds I so admired weren’t real after all and the world of my dreams began to look a little different.  A bit more earthy and down to earth.  A little less frothy but a lot more fun.

Cocktail Hour, oil on canvas, 36×48

But that doesn’t mean I don’t still occasionally long to thrown on a little black dress and pearls.  Old dreams die hard.

To see more of Tracey Sylvester Harris’ work, please visit her website.  You can also see her work in person, if you’re in the Los Angeles area, at Skidmore Contemporary.

All images are via the artist’s website.

Artsy on Escape Into Life: Sherry Karver

7 Aug

The minute Lisa Harris Gallery in Seattle posted images of Sherry Karver’s work, I knew I wanted to learn more about it.  I hope you’ll be as intrigued as I was ( am! ).  I’m featuring Karver’s work in my Artist Watch over on Escape Into Life today.  You can also see her work in Lisa Harris Gallery’s group show, Photographic Wanderings, August 2nd- September 2nd.

First Impressions by Sherry Karver

Sherry Karver on Escape Into Life

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