Portraits represent my love for seeing and recording everyday life. At large, they identify a community of artists who shaped my experience in the M.F.A program at Arizona State University. Like great masters of the past, individual size indicates the importance of the sitter within the hierarchy of my academic and social worlds. Size provides a context of my recent and current visual and psychological relationships.
Since the 19th century photography has been used as a catalyst for painting. I use photographs as a strategy to employ reflective color and optical mixtures. Both bring attention to the complexities of figure ground relationships through the technical and visual intricacies of layering, texture and mark making.
Social relationships are embedded in portraits and deal with artist/sitter exchanges. The majority of my paintings involved visiting others’ studios to capture poses in front of their work. For the in-voluntary and physically in-convenient sitters, I created digital composites as a form of reference.
My portraits document the social pecking order of the tiny communal art universe at A.S.U. Through size I draw parallels to hierarchies that exist in the world around us.
Copyright Ben Willis 2013