The detailed paintings of Shawn Huckins portray common, day-to-day imagery while flawlessly integrating it into what seems to be miniature paint swatches. Although you may think that the artist paints directly on tiny paint cards used as color samples at hardware stores, but they aren’t actually small at all. In fact, these are not real paint cards, they are fairly large paintings that, thanks to Huckins’ finely crafted skill, are made to replicate exactly the different hues and segments of a paint card. If this was not impressive enough, the realistic imagery included in this series titled The Paint Chip Series, seem to fit perfectly into their settings. He creates a breathtaking mountain range on top of ”Cool Jazz” blue, and a “Pacific Sea Teal” has a pool splash erupting from its color patch. However, not all of Huckins’ imagery perfectly matches their chosen color. Many of the swatches have an unexpected twist, as his “Spring Moss” yellow has a car melting and sinking into the rich tone.
Huckins’ work is inspired by the beauty in the everyday, along with influential artists like Ed Ruscha and Andy Warhol. His work explores common imagery, like people sitting in chairs and an employee pushing a shopping cart, and their role in our lives. Even the paint cards are familiar objects that one might find in any home improvement store. Huckins explains these universal commonalities as a way to connect to our everyday surroundings and explore their meanings.
Mimicking the exact proportions, font, layout, and hues of miniature paint cards found at a nation-wide home improvement store, bands of color we may choose for our most intimate spaces—bedrooms, kitchens, family rooms—are an ideal stage to examine the everyday people and objects that occupy our world.
Artist Alessandra Maria uses tools like graphite, gold leaf, and black ink to produce her intriguing portraits. In addition to these traditional materials, she has an unconventional surface that she works on – coffee stained paper. The dark brown ground offers an entry point for these characters, and the gray pencil adds a soft touch to her realistic-looking figures.
Gold leaf is seen here as an accent for the butterflies, flowers, and intricate details. Their drawing style and symbolism conjure fairy tales and other fantastical stories. While there’s a lot of luscious, life-like drawing, the characters often have a blank stare. It’s hard to determine what they’re thinking, which makes Maria’s compositions all the more alluring. Here, beauty is a facade for a deeper, potentially darker below.
Artist Dean Monogenis paints landscapes that fuse modern buildings with geometric shapes. The abstract compositions often feature the architecture suspended in midair, connected to giant rock formations, or structural patterns.
Monogenis’ colorful and minimalist paintings came to life after witnessing the fall of the World Trade Center in 2011. “ Subsequent to that day,” he writes, “I began to see buildings organically in terms of birth and death.” The artist continues:
Interestingly the post 9/11 period was the beginning of a world wide building boom. At the time I lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where the breadth and pace of this development felt like an invasion. Buildings grew nearly over night like mushrooms or mold before my very eyes. I found it simultaneously engaging and frightening.
This construction had little regard for continuity or urban planning:
After overcoming my initial shock, I began to distance myself and consider the situation aesthetically. I interpreted the randomness as more akin to the shantytowns in Jamaica or the Favelas in Rio. I took notice of the simplicity and planer forms of the skeletal structures as they ascended upward. Brightly colored building materials like netting and scaffolding, became interesting to me. I thought if there was a way to distill the temporary and all its ephemera, isolating key pieces into my work, then I would be able to elevate the visual indicators that speak to this period of transformation.
Monogenis usually paints on wood or plastic panels and uses customized stencils of graphic elements. He’ll paint the sky last, but isn’t afraid to sand and rework areas if something doesn’t look right. This allows him to create precise work without forfeiting the spontaneity that’s inherent in painting. (Via Supersonic)
The works of artist Marco Grassi are so realistic, they appear to be photographs of women. However, his work is not your traditional portraits. If you look again, these portraits have an offbeat element, creating surreal characteristics that cannot possibly exist in real life. Because Grassi’s incredible skill in painting allows him to create such hyper-real images, the out of place component in each painting is our only clue to these being oil paintings and not photography. The artist impeccably renders such a variety of texture; until we believe we can feel the glossy, sleek glass and the soft fabric the women are wearing in Grassi’s work. Even close up, you can see the details of each wrinkle, pore and eyelash of every woman he paints, intensifying the illusion of reality.
The twist is, the women in Grassi’s paintings are not normal, they have a hand covered in intricate patterns or a blue tree stretching across their upper torso, both like glowing tattoos on their bodies. One woman even has a design carved into the skin on her back, revealing not blood and bones, but hollow darkness. However strange these unexpected details may be, the women in these portraits remain just as beautiful and realistic as ever. Despite the unusual, serial quality Grassi’s paintings have, they still appear believable. We are left in awe believing in these striking, mysterious women, not knowing why they look as they do. (via Hi-Fructose)
Artist Jennifer Presant is a painter with training in figurative realism and a background in graphic design. Her multifaceted works are a combination of indoor and outdoor spaces. Bedrooms look like they’re in a park, statues are on beaches, and French doors open onto ice. “Thematically, my paintings address the complexity of memory, by blurring the lines between recollection, projection, and reality,” Presant writes in an artist statement. “Each painting becomes a psychological landscape or waking dream, reinforcing the fluid relationships between time, memory and place.”
The contemporary media has a huge impact on the content of Presant’s images. She says:
By merging both real and fictitious images in these painted fictional documentaries, I explore the conflation of our media-saturated lives and our lived reality; we live among images and in many ways as images. Our memories of events have become distorted. With media today, we have grown accustomed to watching ourselves and living from a voyeuristic standpoint. With these paintings, the viewer’s imagination plays an important role in the piece, while also being implicated in the voyeurism depicted. (Via Feather of Me)
British artist Sophie Derrick paints directly onto her skin and adds colorful layers of swirling pigment to her face and neck. Once she’s completed it, she’ll photograph the result and then paint onto that image. The result is a multi-layered, textured portrait that gives the viewer an incredible sense of depth. Derrick’s painting style is abstract – focusing on bright pinks, blues, oranges, and more – and she’ll vary how the paint is applied. It often looks like she uses a palette knife to make thick, frosting-like strokes, but she’ll also use the paint tube to draw lines on the skin.
“I have a great interest in the materiality and substance of paint, and execute this interest through photography, creating a juxtaposition of the two mediums,” Derrick writes. “My body becomes the canvas for the paint, questioning the traditional concept of painting and portraiture, and the barriers between painting and photography. The body becomes both object and subject in the work.” (Via Art Fucks Me)
Australian artist Elspeth McLean takes ordinary ocean rocks and turns them into colorful, geometric Mandalas. Through intense detail and repetitive patterns, the artist finds meditation in painting these found stones with endless acrylic dots. The acrylic paint used on her pocket-sized creations allows her to add an element of dimension in her already layered colors. These intense colors create a palette so crisp and brilliant, it is as if the stones are encrusted with jewels. Painting dots has become so embedded in McLean’s art process, that she even coined the term “Dotillism” to describe her unique style. Each dot that is painted to create her intricate, endless patterns takes an incredible amount of patience and focus. Although completing these Mandala patterns may seem like a difficult task, McLean describes this process as a grounding experience where she can find enjoyment and experience reflection.
The Mandala is a spiritual symbol in Eastern religions that holds meditative properties. It is no wonder McLean has chosen such a strong, healing symbol in her work, as she believes in the healing nature of color and art. She pulls influence from seasons, cosmos, mythology, and ancient art to create her hand-held Mandalas. Her interest in the cosmos can be seen in her stones that are painted not as a geometric pattern, but instead as incredible constellations, still painted in her dotted signature style. An avid traveler, the Australian artist is now living in Canada, gathering inspiration from the new landscapes she perceives throughout her journey. (via Demilked)
Alexandra Levasseur’s complex paintings are filled with emotion and beauty. With heavy brushstrokes dripping with color, she creates scenes of tormented women in a strange world filled with golden halos, burning asteroids, and melting faces. These faces depict a deathly pale beauty that is often transformed and altered by thick globs of color or all encompassing flora. Levasseur explores themes of love and fear, anguish and unsatisfied desire in her body of work.
I am interested in depicting both the solitude and the bipolarity of the existence of the human being, through the representation of memories. I question the relationship between physical comfort and peace of mind, and how the environment around us can affect this state of mind.
Her women are set in scenes of rolling hills of flowers and palpable paint amongst other wilderness. However picturesque the setting may seem, there is a sense of distress and loss. Some of the women lie in a lush, colorful sea of flowers, but still have a look of distress on their face. There is repeatedly a flaming asteroid in the background, implying an impending doom. Levasseur beautifully portrays these women full of emotion, with an inevitable tragedy behind their eyes, if they even have eyes at all. Many of the faces have eyes hiding behind strokes of color, or holes where their eyes used to be. Each woman, beautiful in their own right, is lost and being engulfed in her equally as beautiful surroundings. All of the seeping colors, crushing flora, and heartbreaking women become meshed together in Levaseur’s paintings. She represents this world as a single organism, blending color and form.
Alexandra Levasseur’s solo exhibition Body of Land is on view now at Mirus Gallery in San Francisco.