Introducing Virginia Woolf and Charles Dickens...My New Writers Portraits!

Here's my latest illustrations for my series, "The Writers Project". I'm having such an amazing time creating  these portraits. It gives me time to study the faces of my literary heroes. It is kind of like reconnecting with old friends.

Meet Charles...

Charles Dickens started my obsession with the Victorian Era . He showed me people and world I'd never new existed  and he did it with such compassion. Something that seems pretty rare these days. He grew up poor and spent his life trying to help those he could.

"A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to each other".
Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens in Blue by Debbie Styer 2013

Charles Dickens by Herbert Watkins, 1858

Charles is now available here in my shop!

And welcome Virginia...

Virginia Woolf has always been inspiration. Her courage and ability to speak the truth in her writing is both courageous and so sad. Virginia's writing paved a way for me find away of taking myself serious as a artist and a women. I'll always be thankful for her brilliant essay, "A Room of One's Own".
"For most of history, anonymous was a woman."
Virginia Woolf

The Sad Eyes of Virginia Woolf, by Debbie Styer 2013

This lovely Virginia Woolf print is also available in my shop.

I would love to do a bunch of these writers portraits. Who is your favorite writer? Maybe I'll paint them next...

Art Hero: Amedeo Modigliani

One of my first art loves was the Italian Expressionist artist and sculpter Amedeo Clemente Modigliani. The way he painted portraits was magical to me. His art was seemingly so simple but the artist created so much emotion in each face. Modigliani's gorgeously rich color palette is incredible and I find him influencing my portraits everyday.

Just look at the way he did his eyes of his subjects. They sort of look right through you, don't you think? The sitters almost become ghosts. I love that some of his characters eyes are sometimes just blurred-out grays? So simple but so powerful.

When I paint my portraits I try to do the same thing, I focus on the eyes. Each person I paint seems to come alive when I finish the eyes..

And that little twist of the head, amazing...

Here are a few of my favorite paintings:

Seated Young Woman, 1918

The Servent Girl, 1918
Portrait of Paul Guillaume, 1916

Reclining Nude, 1917

Victoria, 1916

Jaques and Berthe Lipchitz 1916

Nude Sitting on a Divan, 1917

Madame Kisling 1917
Marie, Daughter of the People, 1918

Portrait of Jeanne Hebuterne, 1918

Dedie Hayden, 1918

Tragically, Modigliani died young at the age of 35.  He lived the prefect bohemia artist lifestyle and he influenced generations of artists through his painting style and way of life.

Modigliani in his studio
Which artist has most influenced you?

Art Heroes - Southworth & Hawes Photography

Some of the most inspiring (and oldest) photography was done by the photography firm of Southworth & Hawes  ( Albert Sands Southworth (1811–1894) and Josiah Johnson Hawes (1808–1901).  They were primary active between from 1843-1863 in Boston.

These guys really amaze me. I love the way they arrange their subjects. The sitters seem a lot more real then most of the Victorian photography I've seen before. They photographed some of the most famous people of the time including Louisa May Alcott, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Daniel Webster. But the daguerreotypes that really stand out for me are the everyday people...the "unidentified" people.

Unidentified Child, circa 1850
The Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Family, 1849

"The artist, even in photography, must go beyond discovery and the knowlege of facts; he must create and invent truths and produce new developments of facts. "
--A.S. Southworth, 1870
Death of Pain (first public administered Ether anesthesia)1847

Rollin Heber Neal

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1857

Alice Mary Hawes, 1852

"Learn to look and see the difference under different lights in the same faces. Learn to see the fine points in every face, for the plainest faces in the world are human faces, belonging to human beings... "
--A. S. Southworth, 1873
Unidentified Girl with Ringlets, circa 1850's
Unidentified Woman, circa 1850
Unidentified Dead Child, Circa 1855

"In the nice production of light and shade which is the perfection of modelling, the Daguerreotype will be found to surpass the Artist's best efforts, being capable of representing independently, action, expression, and character to a great extent; and in some instances approaches very nearly, if it does not equal these higher branches, thus developing beauty in grace of motion and in repose, which is the first object and the supreme law of all Art."
--A.S. Southworth, 1855

Two Women Posed with a Chair, ca. 1850 
Unidentified Woman, 1852
Laura Bridgman, 1855

Winchester Family Tomb, Mount Auburn Cemetery, circa 1853

Unidentified Girl, 1850
Winter Portrait with Fur Coat and Gloves

Unidentified Child, 1850

Of course this is only a tiny bit of work by Southwork & Hawes. You can find more in the book, "Young America: The Daguerreotypes of Southworth & Hawes. You can also see more Photographs in this flickr set from the George Eastman House.

I hope these daguerreotypes have inspired you as much as they inspire me. 

Now, I'm off to work on a custom portrait...

The Black Cat and The White Mouse.

I just wanted to share my newest illustration of a black cat vs a white mouse. It was really rewarding to paint. I love trying to get the expressions of my subjects just right and the mouth on the kitty was a fun challenge.

I hope you like it...

 Merrrroooowwww....Look into his eyes...
The print of this illustration is 5 x 7 inches and was created with Watercolor and Gouache.

And he is available in my Etsy shop too.

Making love happen...

Happy Couple? Via The George Eastman House
These Lovelies are here via Lisby. 
BTW, Don't you think this is guy is the spitting image of actor, John Hawkes?

This couple via the George Eastman House

Just a little update...I am working on the little dating cards that will come with each "Ladies & sGents" portraits today. It is really fun to figure out what each character is looking for in their future love. As an inspiration...check out more of these wonderful husband and wife photo's from the lovely "How to Be a Retronaut" blog.. Some of these couples look made for each other, these others...not so much.

On a side note, this is really fun to make these husband and I met online. I do believe love can be found in alternative ways...

Pop Surrealist Portraits

If I lived in the L.A. area I would be at the Roq La Rue Gallery all the time. I love the bizarre artwork they hang. Here are a few pieces of my favorite artists they have exhibited. He seems like a nice homage to all of the old photographs I've been posting:

Mark Ryden was one of the first Pop Surrealists that I noticed. Discovering his work opened  up a whole new world for me as an artist. I was never that comfortable with abstraction or conceptual art. I wanted to paint and capture emotions through the eyes of the people I painted. I loved history and weird things...and really dark things. He became one of my favorite artists working to today...

Check out more of his work at his own site:
"Drips" 2003

"Rose" by Mark Ryden 2003

"Awakening the Moon" by Mark Ryden 2010
A portrait of the artist as a young man by

Travis Louie is someone I discovered when he donated some artwork for the Totoro Forest Project auction I went to a couple of years ago. I really regret not bidding on his artwork...maybe someday I'll have a piece of my own.  For now I can always look at these beautiful spooky portraits he has created. Aren't they wonderful.

For more...check out his website here.

"Ethel" by Travis Louie

"The Hypno Doll" By Travis Louie

"The Smiler" by Travis Louie

Beautiful aren't they? I wonder what would happen if they painted me...