Artist: Claire Strayer – Salisbury, MD
Artist Portfolio Magazine – Southwest vs Northeast Art Exhibition
My work is a celebration of the depth of humans; beyond what is visually and conceptually seen at a first glance. I choose the figure because in this budding stage as an artist, I believe the lessons I can learn through mastering the figure will guide me in other directions I may take in the future. Placing a figure in a narrative is immediately relatable to viewers as we are all figures in the narratives of our lives.
At first glance, a person is just a person but behind what you see is an always energetic world; uncontrollable forces constantly pushing and pulling at them and that person’s retaliations, and we all have hundreds of these forces. For example, a big one for me was that I wrestled with a serious obsessive compulsive disorder since early adolescence. Sometimes I got control over it and sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes I felt ruled by shame and embarrassment, and sometimes I was completely confident. I utilize light and color to symbolize this sort of concept with my figures.
At first glance a person is some sort of brown or beige or pale, but there is a more active depth to their color as well. In my work, colors possess a sense of freedom. Rather than mixed into a neutral tone and smushed into the texture of the canvas, colors are mixed to still keep a vibrant pigment and laid onto the canvas in thoughtful brush strokes, working together like a formula to create lively skin tone.
I take all my own reference photo images and this is an important part of the process because of my manipulation of lighting. I create a lot of contrast because it represents the intensity of that active hidden world inside a person. Often I will make the lighting completely wash out part of a person in white light. I find this overexposure effect to be very powerful because it represents one of those forces overpowering the person’s sense of control. What exactly the “forces” are is open to the viewer.