There is nothing quite as compelling to me as the human figure. To paint the human figure in a way that connects with the viewer feels, to me, as though I am creating the illusion of life. Most artists work alone; I am no exception. Yet in the company of my work, I do not feel alone. Painting the figure allows me to indulge in the intense observation of my own species through the creation of the work itself and in witnessing the impact it has on viewers – and the reactions it can invoke.
My work centres the female figure as an exploration of power, connection, and my own lived experience. Too often, even today, the female figure is presented through the lens of the male gaze. Women are not exempt from creating work through the male gaze simply by virtue of being a woman; one of it’s most insidious qualities is that it can permeate the mind of anyone. A mere reversal of the gaze is still a reaction to the male gaze, and pits women and men as binary opposites. I strive to paint women who exist on their own terms, without regard for what others may think of them. With paintings rendered larger than life, they take on a bodily presence; they take up space. Self-assured in their presence, they gaze back at us, the viewer. We become the subject and, ideally, face our own assumptions about who is worthy of being painted.
Oil paint on linen feels as though it was made for the express purpose of painting skin. Its very nature – viscous, oily, with body and grit – gives it the ability to look more skin-like than skin itself. My materials play an active role in my work. Not merely a medium by which to render an image, they coexist alongside the illusion they help create. Tactile brush marks and exposed linen serve as a joyous reminder that, at its core, painting is an act of technical, physical creation, both grounding and transcendent.