Enjoy these fascinating portraits by Barbara Mathis, and visit her website for more from this talented artist.
When I was a young girl I realized I loved to paint. I always painted and drew in elementary school, but at The High School of Art and Design, that is where I knew it was what I would always be doing. I learned about and greatly admired the paintings of Edward Hopper, Alice Neal, and John Singer Sargent. Their works and those of artists of The Early Renaissance and Renaissance painters inspired me to paint people.
Today I paint people using oil or pastels. Most of my work is done on board and I have a strong affinity for the color red so I prime my boards with it. I find that this color works well with skin tones and gives my work a vibrant quality. My perspective of life and my connection to my subjects always gives me a broad based view of life, and how we relate to each other.
In most of my work my subjects are usually family members or friends, but I will not think twice of going up to someone who catches my eye, handing them my card and asking if I could use them in a painting. Usually the person always says yes. In the painting “Kaseem and The African Duke” I met Kaseem in the Miami airport.
Sometimes it is just a moment in time that gives me inspiration, such as in the painting “No Words Needed”. These are two of my friends who are sisters and I wanted to capture a tenseness or maybe a pause in an important conversation.
“Mike” is part of a new series I am doing called “ATTITUDES”. I was inspired by the Metropolitan Museum’s show of paintings paired with the clothing worn in the paintings. This show gave me the idea to paint standing life size figures and convey their attitudes through the clothes and poses. This painting and about 15 others will be shown next May at The Loft Artists Association in Stamford CT, of which I am a member.