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    Women Painting WTF They Want

    The artwork highlighted in this new curated column on Buzzfeed is focused exclusively on women. Blurbs written by Lorena Kloosterboer.

    Sheryl Luxenburg

    Sheryl Luxenburg | Blindsided (In the Shower Part Two series) | Acrylic on linen | 30 x 60 inches or 76 x 152 ½ cm

    Sheryl Luxenburg is a Canadian hyperrealist artist based in Ottawa who uses watermedia, airbrush, and brush to capture ultra-realistic subject matter, ranging from window reflections and junkyards to figure paintings. Her artwork is so hard to distinguish from reality—especially when viewed online—that many may unwittingly scroll over her work thinking it’s a photograph.

    Since childhood Luxenburg demonstrated a predisposition towards painting which was encouraged by her grandfather David, a passionate nonprofessional artist who painted in the cubist style and who taught her how to mix the correct values and colors of pigments from scratch. In her twenties, Luxenburg attained two graduate degrees in clinical psychology. Despite a fulltime job as a licensed psychotherapist, she always continued to paint and attended artist residency programs at The Banff School of Fine Arts in Alberta, Canada. She also had the good fortune to be mentored by the first-generation photorealist Tom Blackwell—renowned for his motorcycle paintings—at Keene State College in New Hampshire, in the US. Blackwell’s methods for capturing flattened depictions of three-dimensional space reinforced Luxenburg’s signature style.

    Luxenburg describes the decades she worked as a licensed psychotherapist specializing in trauma and abuse as “highly rewarding.” Her vast knowledge concerning the turbulent human psyche has undoubtedly influenced her artwork. Most of Luxenburg’s work revolves around people or objects that experience some type of distress, such as confusion, dread, conflict, anger, or numbness. Emotions related to feeling overwhelmed, useless, or abandoned also play prominent roles within her compositions. She describes her figures interacting with water as an expression of a fatigued emotional state and her wrecked car series symbolizes the inevitable progression of physical deterioration.

    Diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder Systemic Lupus two decades ago and confronted by debilitating symptoms like chronic stiffness and joint pain that drained her energy, she felt forced to retire as a psychotherapist and decided to paint fulltime. After surviving four heart attacks, Luxenburg is determined to be as prolific as time and health allow her.

    Anna Wypych

    Anna Wypych | Black and White Play (Boson 2) | Oil on canvas | 39 ½ x 27 ½ inches or 100 x 70 cm

    Anna Wypych is a figure painter based in Gdynia, Poland, who relies on traditional oil painting methods to achieve a smooth yet painterly realism that also embraces hyperrealistic, surrealist, and expressionist elements. Through her work, Wypych examines life and the universal human condition, basing compositions on her thoughts, emotions, and experiences as well as concepts such as beauty, honesty, inner strength, and justice

    While she doesn’t want to influence the viewer’s personal perception of her work, she feels a need to translate her personal thoughts into words in order to clarify the deeper meaning behind each piece. Even when some belong within a series, each painting is a separate project with a specific subject which she often accompanies with texts and sometimes poetry. She states, “I take inspiration from what I see around me, but my personal thoughts are always the starting point.”

    Currently she’s working on a series about freedom, simply called Boson. The word pertains to the Higgs Boson, a particle in the Standard Model of physics that is thought to be responsible for all physical forces. From an artist’s point of view, Wypych relates the Boson particle to the potential within every human being and the interactions between them—the creative energy of all the possibilities within and around us. She emphasizes the interconnection and interrelatedness between ourselves and the world around us while trying to let go of individualistic notions of herself, seeking to feel connected to both animate and inanimate matter.

    Regarding the Boson series, she says, “Molecules each have their own weight, and are what they are, the point is the variety of molecules. For me Boson is something what makes people different from each other, makes people who they are—that is freedom. Boson is freedom.” This series deals with her search to understand what freedom means, how it shapes us, and the ways in which freedom affects us.

    Wypych’s powerful painting, entitled Black and White Play, represents making difficult decisions in life—it is about having to choose between two bad options. The model, smearing herself with paint, looks defiantly at the viewer, rebelling against the sociocultural notion of the way many of us—especially women—have been trained to be submissive and dependent. As in: good girls are clean and pure, their bodies are under control, and usually not their own. In this context, getting dirty is an expression of liberation.

    Wypych is a thoughtful person, an empathic thinker who takes the state of the world seriously—and as happens to most empaths, frequently gets chastised for being too serious and too sensitive when dealing with problems not exclusively her own. In an attempt to shake off the heavy burden of worrying about humanity, Wypych hid humorous elements within this painting; there’s a monster on the skin, a cat’s eyes and ears, a cartoon bear, a snail without a shell, a praying mantis who also looks like the letter F, a small heart, a weird pelican, and big cow with lean legs. See whether you can spot them.

    Jenny Morgan

    Jenny Morgan / Via poetsandartists.com

    Jenny Morgan paints the human figure breaking away from classical approaches by using striking color schemes and inventive surface treatments that give a fresh interpretation to traditional portraiture. Her method involves the annihilation of impeccably painted portraits, sanding them down to strip away layers in order to symbolically reveal physical and spiritual wounds of the flesh. In her work, Morgan seeks to examine the complexities of human relationships and to expose the psychological multiplicities of the ego. Morgan’s innovative color-use, interesting compositions, and partially abstracted content superbly come together in a highly-sophisticated body of work.

    Morgan’s painting, Lifted, depicts her close friend Caitlin holding twin sons. This piece focuses on motherhood, the emotions connecting family and friendships, and the decision modern women face regarding procreation. In this piece, the transformative power of motherhood is seen in the purposeful, serene look of the woman—depicted in grisaille, symbolizing the stability and strength of a marble sculpture—while protectively and firmly holding the children who are full of light, life, and color. Morgan’s emotional involvement shines through in the sensitive and alluring expression of the subject matter.

    Caroline Westerhout

    Rebecca Leveille

    Rebecca Leveille / Via poetsandartists.com

    R. Leveille’s modernist paintings hover between Pop Art, Expressionism, and Art Nouveau, using expressive brushstrokes and a lush, colorful palette to create strong pictorial content that conveys a powerful message. Leveille inducts the narrative of each piece by strongly delineated figures, adding powerful design elements and text, so that the visual content doesn’t crumble under the weight of her subject matter. She succeeds at directing the viewer’s focus of attention towards both visual and analytical content.

    Leveille’s paintings invite the viewer to look beyond the archetypal female figures and engage with the story that plays out in quite palpable terms, supported by witty symbolism and well-chosen, relevant words or sentences. Touching upon personal themes, such as sexual identity, sensuality, feminism, and today’s sociocultural and political currents, Leveille firmly uses her paintings as megaphones, sharing her point of view and asking for awareness.

    Leveille’s painting You Can Do Anything speaks of a deep-seated anger and frustration many women as well as men share. Numerous amongst us, including Leveille, have survived sexual assault and many more of us have suffered under sexual harassment. The entitlement-fueled behavior of sexual predators—using both verbal as well as physical force—inflicts deep wounds in those they target and forever scars them.

    Most of us do not tolerate aggressive, predacious behavior—whether by word or deed—rejecting and distrusting those who conduct themselves in this way. Yet sadly many are still willing to overlook this type of behavior and find reasons to tolerate, condone, and even justify the infamous words depicted on the canvas—disgustingly depraved statements that allegorically defile the portrait of the artist and her young daughter. Leveille is not alone in being horrified that so many seem to condone the pervasive rape culture that is sustained and even encouraged by those in power. As a woman and a mother, Leveille feels compelled to express her anger, despair, and utter disgust, resulting in You Can Do Anything, a solid, beautiful, and authentic interpretation of her present state of mind.

    Sharon Moody

    Claudia Kaak

    Amanda Greive

    Amanda Greive / Via poetsandartists.com

    Influenced by both classical and contemporary iconography, Amanda Greive’s dramatic hyperrealist paintings include beautifully bizarre and artistically innovative compositions of women posing with flowers. Greive eloquently captures emotional authenticity while faithfully expressing fundamental truths. In her work, Greive examines the myriad of conflicting emotions embedded within the human condition, especially in regards to the isolation and anxiety born out of gender-based stereotypes. These masterful paintings aim to shine a light on the pressures women face to conform to widely imposed sociocultural ideals. The flowers adroitly symbolize society’s paradoxical views on women, superbly capturing the dichotomy of being fragile, decorative, and sexual, as well as strong, tenacious, and adaptable.

    Patrice Robinson

    Shana Levenson

    Katie Miller

    Daniela Kovacic

    Daniela Kovacic

    Chilean figure painter Daniela Kovačić examines sociocultural topics, such as self-identity and collective identity, through her paintings of women and children. Her striking portraits focus on the gaze and body language of her subjects casually placed in commonplace settings, revealing her keen interest in psychology and human nature. Kovačić’s dynamic compositions—handled in a realistic, painterly style—are built up in strong, loose brushstrokes with a keen eye for lighting and a subtle color palette, emphasizing the atmosphere of the gripping narrative.

    Victoria Selbach

    Shelli Langdale

    Erica Elan Ciganek

    Heidi Elbers

    Erin Anderson

    Michelle Doll

    Sylvia Maier

    Nadine Robbins

    Omalix

    Lee Price

    Carmen Chami

    Judith Peck

    Natalie Holland

    Pam Hawkes

    Tenley DuBois

    Lorena Pugh

    Lorena Pugh

    Lorena Pugh is an American contemporary realist artist and illustrator based in Rhode Island, USA, whose paintings examine the visual chemistry happening between translucency, organic form, and light. In her still lifes Pugh examines the abstracted shapes created by diffuse light hitting pears enfolded in crumpled tissue paper—which Pugh describes as “her muse”—elegantly juxtaposing mysterious, warped silhouettes against a dark background. The pears’ voluptuous shapes reflect the feminine form and seek to probe our universal perceptions of the female figure by celebrating natural beauty. Pugh builds up her paintings by applying multiple layers of glazing that allow her to create subtle variations in the paint’s opacity and translucency to achieve an exquisite illusion of light. Through her artwork, Pugh endeavors to tap into the unknown and unspoken aspects of herself to gain a deeper understanding of life.

    Judy Takács

    Maria Mijares

    Maria Mijares is an American artist of Spanish descent based in New Jersey, USA, whose contemporary realist cityscapes and interior paintings always start out as a collection of abstract shapes that progress into representation as a compilation of poetic vignettes. Mijares dignifies each brushstroke with importance, thoughtfully evaluating the qualities of each shape, pushing truth to the edge. In her paintings, she creates an imaginary realm she would like to live in—a colorful, balanced, and harmonious world. In an effort to understand her trajectory Mijares relies on writing in order to shape and add structure to her visual ideas. Her style is described as “psychedelic precision” through which she aims to find beauty within the ugly and mundane, building upon philosophical insight.

    Yana Beylinson

    Anzhelika A. Doliba

    Anzhelika A. Doliba is a Ukrainian artist living and working in New Jersey, USA, who employs a variety of media to create a range of subject matter using a classical realist approach. In addition to accurately portraying the intricacies of structural details, Doliba is interested in capturing mood and atmosphere as a means to interpret the here and now. Starting out with a black surface, she uses black and white to achieve a full scale of values to paint detailed grisaille. The skillful application of values results in an impactful, highly sculptural three-dimensionality in which methodically applied brushstrokes retain an intimate painterly appearance.

    Doliba’s delightful architectural painting, entitled Grand Central Terminal, NYC, draws me because of its meticulously detailed quality. I share Doliba’s fascination with historic buildings that show influences of distinct historical and cultural periods. New York’s Grand Central Station boasts monumental spaces and meticulously crafted detail, especially on its façade. Doliba’s painting zooms in on Glory of Commerce, a sculptural group by Jules-Félix Coutan featuring statues of Hercules, Minerva and Mercury, a lovely example of magnificent design honoring an era when architects and artists still successfully worked together to create functional, beautiful buildings.

    Josie McCoy

    Josie McCoy is a British artist currently based in Valencia, Spain, whose soft-focus portraits of film and television characters attempt to blur the line between reality and fiction. Within her paintings, McCoy examines an artificial version of reality offered through both television and art, inviting the viewer to connect with fictional yet familiar subject matter. Working from photographs taken from the television enables McCoy to paint an isolated moment which the actor has not specifically performed for, capturing close-ups of dramatic moments that show strong emotion. By applying many layers of diluted paint—using oils like transparent watercolors—she skillfully renders the luminosity of the television screen on canvas, painting the bare minimum of features needed for figures to be recognizable and their expression understood.

    Marie Cameron

    Laura Shechter

    Laurence de Valmy

    Camille Engel

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