Artist Laura Hunt’s contemporary figurative paintings focus on human relationships and storytelling. View more of her work by visiting her website.
My childhood on a central Texas farm, while idyllic in many respects, was devoid of art education. Once the larger world of art books, galleries and museums opened up to me, I drank up knowledge wherever I could.
My English degree served me well in my marketing and graphic design career. During this time, I passed through phases in textiles, pastel portraits and figures, cut paper illustration, and greeting card design. When a major life change in 2013 took me to a place where I could gratefully say goodbye to my marketing career and embrace my studio practice full time, I took the leap.
Since the beginning of 2019, I have focused on contemporary figurative painting. It melds my love for abstraction with my obsession with the human face and figure.
I came to figurative painting after several years of creating non-objective abstract work. That love of abstraction still appears when I omit details and place my archetypal figures in ambiguous but vaguely familiar settings. While I enjoy landscapes and interiors, they exist in my paintings primarily to serve the humans who occupy them.
Several themes are evident in my figurative art. Human relationships. Human emotion. Social issues. Empathy. But no matter what the specific painting’s theme, the telling of universal stories through archetypal figures unifies the work. These characters invite the observer into the narrative to understand and to empathize. Each subject’s lived moment takes an honored place.
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Color plays a dominant role in supporting gesture and expressing mood. Outlines and the absence of extraneous details endow the image with a symbolic quality. High contrast, with sunlight forming the face and figure and casting shadows, often appears in the work.
Acrylic paint is my foundational medium, but I relish the complexity and playfulness that happens when I incorporate patterns, marker scribbles, or scraps of vintage maps into the painting. I work on various surfaces—paper, canvas, wood panels and even corrugated cardboard. Any new material that raises the work’s tactile or emotional impact is a welcome opportunity to experiment.
Several sources provide inspiration. I sketch from life as opportunity arises, keeping a tiny sketchbook in my bag to record interesting postures. Movies and seminars provide venues for filling my sketchbook with drawings of the backs of people’s heads. I rummage through the family archives to unearth fuzzy but fascinating black and white images of kinfolk and unidentifiable oddballs from bygone days.
I may sneak a surreptitious photo of someone in a compelling pose and add it to my photographic library. Images of friends and family who are willing to act out my ideas go into the library as well. And sometimes pure imagination feeds the creative process. These sources are fertile ground for my practice.
My artist heroes include anonymous folk and tribal artists, the Abstract Expressionists, and David Park whose figurative work I adore for its confident expressiveness. They motivate me to boldly paint my own path.
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