Jamaal Clarke is a figurative artist from San Diego CA.
He has a BA in Creative Writing/Literature from UCSD, and has studied drawing/painting at Grand Central Atelier and The Art Students League of New York.
I became fascinated with the exchange of self between artist and sitter first as an art model myself, and then as an artist. Successful figurative painting from life merges the me and the other, where the sitter passes into the artist and is expressed through the body of the painter onto the canvas. You and me become a one, and I find this crumbling of the illusion of an independent self, through another person, intimate and beautiful.
When I paint I am mostly conscious of the formal elements. My primary concerns are first and foremost the accuracy of the drawing in terms of likeness to the sitter, then creating the illusion of three dimensions through value control, and finally the hue, chroma, and temperature manipulation that results in living and active flesh in my painting. Although formal, the rendering of a human is actually the rendering of everything. Time is perceived in relation to our story, the universe is felt in relation to our scale and our place, the awe of life and uncertainty of death are considered by us about us, nothing concrete or abstract matters for its own sake but is always in relation to us, and I believe that these preoccupations and their truths are captured in my figures.
Figures in my work are created in two ways, most of my paintings are painted from life, but when I am struggling to find a model I will work without reference. When painting from life the figures capture a mindfulness in relation to the physical setting that hosts it. Models wait, as time passes, as their lives pass, as their mind waxes and wanes in and out of banality, but its when they settle into themselves and inhabit their “beingness” that I can capture what I want, which is awareness of presence in space. When I work without reference I look to paint figures that feel as real as possible. They inhabit a world that they don't totally understand, nor do they totally understand how they got there, but they are resigned to participate. They are like the viewer only because we project our temporal condition onto them, but because their time is frozen, they are only a mimetic approximation of being.
Showing touch through the brushstrokes is also an important character in my work. My paintings aren’t about me at all, but I do believe that it is important for the viewer to be able to see that a person made “this’ with their hands, that the painting is an overt record of being as series of gestures poured into ‘this” vessel. Along with touch recording the hand of the painter, showing brushstrokes as fragments is a more penetrating way to describe matter and identity, which are not truly solid forms but only appear to be. So the texture of my figures’ flesh aims at describing the beautiful contradiction between emptiness and form, the fact of now and reality of impermanence.
Debo Mouloudji is a Franco-American figurative artist.
She has a BFA in Illustration from Parsons School of Design, and has studied painting/drawing at l'Académie de la Grande Chaumière, l'Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts de Paris, and the Art Students League of New York.
My work is about people and their stories. I tell stories visually, untold stories, stories that aren’t stories, stories that are emotions, secrets, lies, truths. Every person is a story, every person is ephemera, every person is connected to every thing that ever lived and ever will live, and everything that is.
I paint from life exclusively. Painting from life is a practice in presence, for both artist and model. It forces the model to be within themselves in their truth, and for me to be present with them, opening myself in such a way that I become a channel. The energy of our interaction becomes a part of the painting; do they like being looked at, are they open or closed? In this state I am emotionally perceptive without having conscious understanding of what I am perceiving, but the paint picks up the emotion, the expression, the life within the span of time of the pose/painting.
My interest in comparative mythology, specifically primitive mythology, informs my work. My practice is grounded in “traditional” medium and subject, because figurative painting connects us to our earliest tool-making ancestors. From ceremonial hand-axes to Paleolithic cave paintings and all that lead from there, I see how art originated as a spiritual practice.
Painting a person is a spiritual experience just as the cave paintings were made for spiritual/ritual purpose. Having developed, and continuing to develop, the skills of painting and drawing has gifted me powers of transcendence, vision, mind reading, the magical experience of coming to know someone through painting and how their truth can appear on the canvas. It is as if the hand eye connection is a shamanic wand/tool/staff that allows me to see into a person even though my conscious mind sees only paint.
My work is meant to feel alive. The figures in my paintings are intended to be the most honest, most humanising, expression of the individual. I want the viewer to feel that person, to be in awe of them, in love with them, in fear of them, aroused by them, anxious because of them. Each painting is an anthropological study of the individual, a visionary intimacy in both the physical world and in the picture plane, where truths about the sitter shine gently through in the stillness of paint.