I have often been asked why I choose to paint portraits and been subsequently informed that they are both “boring” and “unimportant” in the contemporary art field (I hesitate to call it an art “world”). My response to that is that portraits are only as boring as people, and that as long as humans exist, there will be those who feel compelled to study them. I am one of those people. I am fascinated by portraiture because I am fascinated by humans, and, moreover, by the extent to which one can recreate certain fundamentally human qualities in a plastic medium.
My latest series entitled “Women in Color” is an exploration of mood, perception and manipulation. In this series I work from black and white photographs of Victorian to Modern women, using a single color to enhance and, to some extent, alter the psychological mood or experience of the original piece. I chose to work from photographs because, insofar as artistic license is concerned, certain decisions, such as how the person is posed or framed and what is the quality of the environment, have already been made; this helps to isolate the role a particular color plays in a transformation. I chose this era of photography (and women) because it is one in which I am particularly interested, and one that lends itself relatively easily to the project.
The most interesting part of this series for me has been the process—observing the ways in which “mood” is interpreted by me, associated with certain colors, and then re-interpreted based on that association. More often than not, and perhaps not surprisingly, I have found that I am unable to separate mood and color from other elements like tone and brushwork. How others receive and react to the works will add a whole new dimension of thought and feeling to their surface, and I am excited to see how the series unfolds. Until then, enjoy!
(To view the entire series, click here.)