Artist Gwen Manfrin presents a collection of powerful watercolor portraits that reflect the inner emotions of her subjects. Find more by visiting her website.
Growing up outside San Francisco, California, I studied art at University of California, Los Angeles. I most strongly identify with the human being as subject, and I believe in the expressive possibilities of the figure on both sensory and metaphoric levels. For me, the figure provokes an immediate response, a subliminal messaging through body language and attitude.
My early work used teenagers as a subject, striving to reflect their code of behavior, particularly in the context of isolation and longing. Teens often feel they are living their lives held hostage by parents, rules, school.
In actuality, the hidden captors are popular culture, their peers, body image and their own self interest. Their body language is a subconscious vehicle that expresses this contradiction of intent.
More recently, I am responding to the millions of images of self on social media; multiple ideations of the same person in a variety of expressions, attitudes, costumes.
If wisdom is gained by self reflection, what happens when an entire culture doesn’t look inward but stages every moment to be a moment to record? I hope to find the emotion and truth hidden behind the self promotion and posturing.
And then, how exciting to observe a person at dance or play. What is on their mind as they move through time and space? How much is hidden at first glance, then revealed in an instant, only to be gone in a flash. My interest is in reflecting this inner life of a state of consciousness. Therefore, I try to avoid the confinements of particular place or time, by condensing space and detail.
The idea is to evoke tension between the containment and the expression of feeling, and to do this through form, composition and light. While I work in color, I find that the graphic quality of black and white presents a starker reaction to the drama of the pose or gaze.
I’m an avid gardener and a lover of whales. I spend as much time as I can in the ocean and paint the waves when I am not swimming in them.
A wave is like a person, in constant flux and change. To capture the essence of a wave is like capturing the emotion of a moment, elusive, but a joy to discover.