Artist Deirdre West painting model

Artist Statement

“The Realist, if he is an artist, will seek not to show us a banal photograph of life, but to give us a vision more complete, more seizing, more probing than reality itself.” –Guy de Maupassant

My goal with my art is to share my vision of life, my search for understanding, and to move a viewer the way I have been moved by something I have seen or experienced. 

I have walked through museums, churches and galleries in a variety of countries seeking something indefinable through the work of other artists. There is nothing like the feeling of being startled out of my own thoughts by the gesture of a marble hand, the glow of painted eyes and realizing I am not alone.

Painting forces me to take a lens and aim it at my perceptions, to peel beneath the layers of my beliefs and find out what they are made of. 

What is reality? It is something each of us forms based on our perceptions and flavored by the perceptions of others. For me, painting is the act of reproducing the illusion of space, time, and dimension, then coloring it with emotion. The emotion I feel as I paint, the memories, hopes or fears the subject evokes and the interchange between model and artist.

I am a classical realist oil painter, who paints a variety of subjects but with a specific interest in the human form. A draftsman can be trained to draw a three dimensional object using a trick of shading to give a sense of weight and presence. But to give a human form the illusion of life and spirit, to portray a part of the soul on canvas, is a challenge.

Humans are alive. They are not statues, or arrangements of fruit. They breathe, shift, and grow bored. As the model moves, I must choose what facet of their personality I want to capture and then reproduce my interpretation of it. In the end so much is stained by the artist. Who I am bleeds into every rendering until no matter what my original intent, each holds a hint of self portrait.

A camera can capture a subject instantly, a single facet of emotion burned onto photo paper. Twenty, or thirty photos could be laid out to give the viewer a sense of the model moving, thinking, being. The quickest artist cannot capture a single second instantly like a machine can.  Instead they must take an hour, two hours sometimes weeks, months, which add up to movement, changing moods, at times changing light and they must translate that into a soul. 

All of my paintings are created from direct study of life using only the finest quality hand ground oils and Belgium linen. Although I aim for realism, I want to discover and portray something beyond the visual.

Each of my paintings and drawings is at once a lesson I have learned, a triumph, a failure, a song, the essence of who I am and who I want to be. An effort, to remain intensely alive.

-Deirdre West   2013

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