b a c k g r o u n d
Ever since I was a child, I dreamed of becoming an artist. My mother was a fashion illustrator and a portrait artist, and I just loved to watch her work. There was always an easel or a drafting board set up in our dining room, when I was growing up! So it just seemed natural when I began formal studies in fine art when I was twelve years old at Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh. Later I was awarded an art scholarship to Carnegie-Mellon University.
For the past decade, my work has been focused on the figure. Through years of weekly drawing classes and model sessions, I have developed an artistic voice, an interpretation of the human form that allows for self expression. But I feel that my work will always be an ongoing process as I continue to experiment with the balance between line and shape, representation and abstraction.
a r t i s t s t a t e m e n t
Painting the figure is personal because understanding the figure means understanding myself. It's a journey that goes on. There is a girl within. She is me. She is a friend. She might even be you or someone you know. She could be any age but she will always be young. She feels that life can be simple and uncomplicated. She's perfect just the way she is. Her soul lives in my work. Her life breathes in my paintings. It seems that I am always searching for her, searching for ways to paint her feelings and emotions. I always come back to her. This is why I paint the figure.
I like to use texture just like our lives are layered and textured. I apply modeling paste, gel mediums, oil paint and acrylics with brushes, knives and rags to achieve depth and complexity. The finished effect of my mixed media paintings is an aged quality, like a fresco.
My work has been described as soulful and evocative. To me, they're simply compositions from the heart.
a new series of figure paintings inspired by Coco Chanel
I had this vision of the beautiful world of haute couture, fine dressmaker details and exquisite models captured in a series of dream-like paintings - the Art of Fashion. As the daughter of a fashion illustrator, I have a special fondness for this lost art and so I challenged myself to reinterpret some of Chanel’s iconic creations into a contemporary show of canvases and works on paper.
I was inspired by her rags-to-riches story which began in an orphanage and ended with a fashion empire; her tweed suits, her little black dresses, the lavish gowns, the ropes of pearls, The House of Chanel. The list goes on and on. It’s a show about fashion but also about a vision of simplicity that we both share. To put it in her own words, “Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.” This became my mantra for my newest body of work. I that hope you enjoy it!
Mademoiselle, 48x36", mixed media on canvas, Holly Irwin