Tag Archives: portraits

Puppy Love: Clair Hartmann

10 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 November 1, 2011.  Enjoy!

PS- since writing this post, Clair Hartmann has opened a wonderful little gallery in Wilmington, NC, Sun Gallery & Gifts.  Please make a visit if you’re in the area!

OK, yes I know “pet art” has been done to death.  It seems like every artist and their brother is doing it.  But I submit to you, dear Artsies, that Wilmington, NC artist Clair Hartmann does doggy art in a wonderfully whimsical and heartfelt, yet not at all cheesy way.

Shore Leave, oil on fabric on canvas, 40×30

Whether she is doing straight-on portraits against graphic fabric backgrounds, like the one above or masterpiece inspired depictions as in the ones below, Clair always captures her subjects inherent personality and unique expressions.

Pearl Earring, oil on canvas panel, 9×12

Frida Dog, oil on canvas, 16×20

There is a wonderfully graphic and modern quality to Clair’s animal work, which to me, elevate them beyond kitsch. Her paintings of her own Jack Russell Terrier, Chumley, are among my favorites.  She perfectly captures moments of rare moments quiet rest and inner reflection ( who hasn’t wondered what their dog was thinking?! ), filled with tenderness and love for her subject.

The Dream, oil on canvas, 36×24

Clair has a new exhibition now open in Wilmington at the WHQR Gallery Space– Faithful: A Series of Dog Paintings will be on display through January 13, 2012.  You can also visit her website to see more of her work and visit her Etsy shop to purchase!

Featured image is Wonky Bumbershoots by Clair Hartmann.  All images via the artist’s website and Etsy shop.

Masterworks Monday: Frida Kahlo

8 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 May 2, 2011, when the blog was barely two months old.  Enjoy!

In honor of Cinco De Mayo this week, I thought we’d focus today on the amazing Frida Kahlo.  When I was in painting classes in college, I remember there being this older Bolivian lady who was auditing the classes and she was obsessed with Frida Kahlo.  She was sweet but somewhat obnoxious.  For a long time, the fact that she was so obsessed with Kahlo managed to turn me off on her artwork.  Weird how our minds work sometimes.

But then, somewhere along the line, I let go of this irrational bias and took another look at Kahlo and her work.  And I was quickly won over.  Health problems plagued Kahlo from a young age, suffering first from polio and then being severly injured in a horrific car accident which left her in a full body cast and bedridden for three months.  Though she eventually recovered from her injuries, extreme pain would torment her for the rest of her life.

Two Fridas

Before the accident, Kahlo was studying to become a physician, but she dealt with the boredom of being confined to bed by taking up painting with her father’s watercolors.  And so, Frida Kahlo, the artist was born.

Kahlo’s work often included symbols of Mexican mythology, as well as those of Christian and Jewish faiths.  Though she is perhaps best known for her self-portraits, often depicting events in her own life, such as the accident, subsequent miscarriages, etc.

She married renown Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera in 1929 and their life together was a tumultous one.

Her work has been described as surrealist, but I think it is the unvarnished depiction of her real life pain and struggle that makes her work so interesting and relatable. We may not have all been through the kind of physical pain Kahlo experienced, but perhaps it is that we can all certainly relate to her emotional pain and the need to express it on canvas.

Be sure to check out the official Frida Kahlo website.  A beautifully designed site full of interesting information about the artist.

Guest Forager: Kaitlyn of isavirtue– Austin Power

6 Jun

Hi Artsies!  I’m taking a tiny break for a few days, while we visit with some dear friends from Florida.  Please welcome fellow art lover and blogger, Kaitlyn Patience, who blogs and creates gorgeous stationery over at isavirtue!

Hello! My name is Kaitlyn. I blog at isavirtue and I will be guest posting on Artsy Forager today!

Jovie, watercolor on paper, 8.5×11

Not to be confused with the comedic British movie character, artist Austin Power  has made a name for himself as well. His unique portraits, which almost never depict an entire face, are at once eerie and intriguing.

Esther, watercolor on paper, 11×15

Emmanuel 2, watercolor on paper, 12×14

I would have guessed that the artist only paints those details that have made an impression on him. For example, I feel most connected to my husband’s eyes, and my best friend is known for her ski slope nose. So I assumed that the artist was simply recording the most intimate features on his friends and loved ones (As in his series “21 Portraits of People I Miss”). But the artist has a different train of thought than I.

Amy, watercolor on paper, 10×15

Jayme, watercolor on paper, 11×15

Power describes his reasoning for leaving out a nose, or a mouth, or a pair of eyes, “I am interested in showing the difficulty and discomfort in fully understanding a person. I leave my subjects incomplete to highlight their limitations, as well as my own inability to see the subject beyond the influence of myself.

Featured image is Self-Portrait by Austin Power. All images via the artist’s website

Fragile Ambiguity: Kris Knight

4 Apr

Sometimes, in a world filled with sarcasm and cynicism, we can easily forget the vulnerability of the human spirit.  How one wounding word can hurt and haunt us.  Toronto artist Kris Knight’s portraits remind us that the strength we so often feign is not impenetrable.

Waves ( Augustus ), oil on canvas, 30x40

The pale pastel palette Knight employs translates to us the inherent frailty of our psyches.  Though each subject takes a strong stance, often looking straight into the gaze of the viewer, their faces tell a different story.  Beneath the facade, we see flushed cheeks, downturned mouths and eyes that seem to be bright with unshed tears.

Caught, oil on canvas, 12x16

Some wear netted masks, hiding in plain sight.  While others at once stand defiant under our close attention, yet their eyes are pleading.

Winter Wheat, oil on canvas, 30x40

Mischief, oil on canvas, 14x18

They are the faces of loved ones and strangers.  People we think we acknowledge but who are longing to be known.  To see more of Kris’s work, please visit his website.

Artist found via Escape Into Life.

Featured image is Run Deep, oil on canvas, 16×20.  All images are via the artist’s website.

Collecting Glances: Kris Lewis

19 Jan

George and I are people watchers.  Sometimes when the hubby and I are stuck in a public place with time to kill, we love to watch the people go by, making up stories about who they are, where they are going.. Occasionally, in the course of observing, we may make eye contact with a stranger.  Just a glance, but in the moment, there is a recognizable connection between souls.  Los Angeles artist Kris Lewis shares his own experiences in human observations with his wonderfully moody portraits.

Scintillating Venuses, oil on wood, 24x23

If you’ve read the blog for a while, then you know I’m a sucker for interesting portraiture.  Lewis follows in the footsteps of portraitists that came before him, his figures are beautifully drawn and rendered.  But what sets his work apart is the capturing of the fleeting emotion of a moment, whether conveying a sense of vulnerability, power, sadness, even resolution.

Destruction Period, oil on canvas, 24x24

The faces portrayed often seem decidedly modern, but when juxtaposed with costumes of another era and surrealish landscape backgrounds, as one blogger put it, the result is “modern spooky”.  These aren’t prosaic traditional portraits to hang above the fireplace.  They are explorations of experience, revelations of hidden narratives.

Fire Tower, oil on wood, 12x16

Low Tide, oil on board, 24x36

It’s almost as if, in carefully observing his subjects, the artist sees them in another life.  A life previously lived in a different time and place.

Red, oil on wood, 20x24

Which makes me wonder.. how would such an artist depict me?  Or you?  Wouldn’t you love to know?!  Visit Kris Lewis’s website to see more and while he’s in the process of updating it, you can find his latest work on his Facebook page.  Speaking of Facebook, have you “liked” the Artsy Forager Facebook page?  If not, you may be missing out on all sorts of fun & interesting tidbits not shared on the blog!

Thank you to Christine at Bijou and Boheme for introducing me to this incredible artist!

Featured image is Weathered Oak, oil on wood, 24×20.  All images are via the artist’s website.



Friday Faves: Face-off

9 Dec

Christopher Marlowe wrote about “the face that launched a thousand ships“.  Faces, full of expression and personality are often the most difficult subject for an artist to render.  I know, I went through three semesters of figure drawing purposefully not showing the model’s face, because as adept as I was at the figure, I just couldn’t get the hang of drawing faces.  Perhaps that’s why I am so drawn to the work of artists whose faces are so beautifully rendered and expressive.  Today’s round-up includes a few of my current faves:

Buck by Aaron Smith, oil on panel, 28x24

Tart by Greg Hart, charcoal, gouache, gesso, collage and acrylic on paper, 22x30

Marley Shelton by Keinyo White, oil on canvas, 48x48

Matutinal by Nick Lepard, oil on canvas, 54x66

Get in some face time with these extraordinary artists by visiting their websites, linked below.

1.  Aaron Smith 

2.  Greg Hart 

3.  Keinyo White 

4.  Nick Lepard 

Featured image is Effie by Greg Hart, charcoal, gouache, gesso and acrylic on paper, 26×22.  All images are via the artists’ websites.

Assimilating Identities: Amy Sherald

28 Sep

When I first saw Amy Sherald’s paintings, I immediately loved them for their bold, graphic quality and quirkiness.  But it wasn’t until I took a closer look that I realized that these were more than just eccentric portraits.

The Rabbit In The Hat, oil on canvas, 43x54

Sherald chooses to paint the skin tones of her African American figures, not their normal beautiful brown tones, but dull grays.  In doing so, she uses her choice of paint color to comment on the push for African Americans to “fit in” with white society.

They Call Me Redbone, But I'd Rather Be Strawberry Shortcake, oil on canvas, 43x54

Having been one of only a few African Americans in a predominately white private school in the South, Sherald draws ( literally ) on her experience of trying to maintain her racial identity while feeling the need to put on certain white characteristics in order to be socially accepted among her peers.  This “performance” aspect is depicted in her work but the appearance of characters, costumes, masks, etc.

It Made Sense... Mostly In Her Mind, oil on canvas, 43x54

You can see in these works, a sense of the frustration and futility of denying your true self to fit in.  How often do we pick up our own mask or put on our own costume, when we are afraid of being rejected for who we truly are?

Check out Amy Sherald’s website for more images of her work and be sure to read her insightful artist statement.

Portrait Of My Dreams: Ann Marshall

22 Sep

Confession:  I kind of have a list of artists who I would love to have paint my portrait.  These are artists through whose eyes I want to see myself.  Is that weird?  Wait, on second thought, don’t answer that.  Anyhoo… right now, near the top of the list is Ann Marshall, only behind Deborah Scott, who was the one to introduce me to Ann’s work in the first place.  This is an artist who is able to capture the essence of her sitter’s soul and bare it onto the canvas in a strong yet soft way.

Sunshine and Molasses, pastel and paper collage on paper, 39x55

Her detailed surfaces and the way the figures are incorporated into their surroundings give her work an ethereal, haunting quality, yet they still feel fresh and modern.

Katherine, oil and collage on canvas, 30x40

I definitely see a contemporary take on art nouveau and some fabulous Gustav Klimt-ish layering of pattern.

Garden, pastel and paper collage on paper, 39x55 and 19x55

Then there’s the Pre-Raphaelitish influence of some of the compositions and poses, which give the work a wonderfully romantic, Brontesque quality.

I Used to be a Southern Belle, pastel and paper collage on paper, 55x39

Her figures are rendered with stunningly quiet power and vulnerability.  Which, I think, as women is exactly how we might like to see ourselves.

To see more of Ann Marshall’s work, please visit her website and Facebook page.

Featured image is Wait by Ann Marshall.  All images are via the artist’s website.

Ann Marshall’s feature was written to music by She & Him.

Playing Dress Up: Robin Williams

2 Aug

I find myself continually drawn to artists who realistically paint the human figure, but reimagine it in unique ways.  ( see:  Deborah Scott, Susan Hall, Jeff Whipple & so many more I’ve yet to share with you ).  So it goes without saying that the work of New York based painter Robin Williams ( no, not THAT Robin Williams ) got me really excited.

Party Hat by Robin Williams

You know I love work that’s just a little bit cheeky.  Williams’ paints scenes from childhood imaginations & experiences and portraits of figures dressed up in a stunning array of absurd costumes.  Her wide-eyed, willowy figures have a Norman Rockwell-ish timelessness to them.  But Williams invests in her gawky, pre-pubescent figures a darkness and absurdity missing from Rockwell’s happy-go-lucky world.

Ornamented Boy by Robin Williams

Her portrait figures pose stiffly in outlandish costumes and headresses, seemingly unsure of how they found themselves in such a situation.  Perhaps speaking to how we begin as wide-eyed children, but as we grow into adults, we find ourselves wearing the most ridiculous costumes in order to appear to fit into someone else’s conception of who we are.

Flower Cap by Robin Wiliams

Other figures find themselves in the midst of a preposterous scene, almost like a dream of a childhood memory.. the way we remember places and events from childhood in a more fantastical, exaggerated way.

Swoon At The Water Pump by Robin Williams

Tired Prince by Robin Williams

The portraits, for me, especially convey that feeling of what it was like to be a kid full of energy and vitality only to be forced to sit still, whether in school, church, etc.  That feeling of a corralled hurricane, just waiting to break free of the constraints being forced upon us.  On second thought, you don’t have to be a child to feel that way, do you?

Collar On Boy by Robin Williams

Please visit Robin Williams’ website to see more of her work online.

The featured image is titled Yellow Hat.  All images courtesy of the artist’s website.

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