Maria

Announcing the Isolation Drawing Project 2.0.

Due to such a great response the first time, I have decided to do this project again, as we are back in lockdown and its difficult to connect once again.

If you’d like to participate simply send me a photo of yourself, your loved one, your pet or whatever brings you joy and go to this link to put in your order. It’s really very simple.
You will receive your very own unique drawing in the mail, mounted and ready to be put into a standard size frame. A perfect gift or for your own home.

Drawing is a grounding, meditative, mindful process for me. Knowing that there is a creative project waiting in the studio every morning keeps me positive and productive, especially at a time when there is much negativity and uncertainty in the world because of COVID.

 

When the first lockdown was announced here in Victoria due to COVID19, I started a little project to stay connected and creative during a difficult time. I drew a portrait almost everyday from photos that people sent me via social media. It was wonderful to have such a positive response and it kept me busy for weeks. Here are just a few of the drawings that came out of this, you can see all of them and read the stories by strolling through my Instagram account.

 

It has been quite an experience curating this group exhibition!
I planned everything months in advance. The artworks were framed, website up, marketing done, and all 6 artists were ready for the party! One week away from the official opening, which was going to host about 150 people, the news of COVID-19 spreading at incredible speed around the world, revealed a need for urgent change in our plans. Having a gathering of that size, or even half that size was off the cards.

So we decided to cancel the opening, but hang the artwork anyway so visitors have the opportunity to come and see the artwork when they please in a safer environment.

Knowing that attendance will be very low, we also made this short video (below) introducing the realist group show, as well as longer walkthrough video that provides a virtual alternative to physically walking through the gallery. All this can be found on the website as well as images of all the artworks and information about each artist. I hope you take this opportunity to explore it form the comfort of your home. I hope it helps to lift your spirits in these uncertain times. 🙂

The exhibition remains open, all enquiries can be made through Black Spot Gallery or myself.
Gallery contact details: Black Spot Gallery & Studios
20 Milgate Drive, Mornington
Contact Allan on 0418 321 620 or stynesal@bigpond.com

I have always enjoyed the challenge of depicting the human figure in my art. Technically, it can be the most difficult subject, but the beauty and complexity of the nude form intrigues me more than any other theme.

As a woman painter who is very drawn to figurative representation, I also find the nude genre somewhat problematic because of its history and the way it is sometimes perceived by the general public.

You don’t have to study art history to know that the rich tradition of figurative painting has always been grossly male dominated. Consequently, a devastating bias exists in the way women have been (and often still are) depicted in artworks made predominantly by men.

Art history is littered with portraits of women in private moments, dressing, bathing or in repose. Often unaware of being watched, they are passive, submissive, simple creatures. I believe such works are made to be looked at through an extremely narrow lens of one type of male observer, that is often degrading or outright offensive to women.

I once knew a man who used to love using the phrase ‘I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like’ whenever he saw a nude in an artwork. He thought he was being clever and a little bit cheeky, but it always made me feel extremely uncomfortable.

Do we blame the reckless artists or the ignorant audience for the problematic reputation of this sensitive genre? I would say both are responsible.

The term ‘male gaze’ was first coined by Laura Mulvey in her essay ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ in 1975 and quickly became an integral part of cultural theory and art practice. In basic terms it is used to describe the way art and cinema portray women as objects of desire, symbols of sexuality, metaphors for perfection and only casts them as small characters to support a story. The male gaze does not see women as protagonists, real-life human beings with passions, dreams and desires capable of agency and independent thought.

Understanding this history is crucial to me as an artist and as a woman. I feel incredible responsibility to develop acute awareness of the male gaze in art produced today, to rebel against any media that perpetuates ignorance in this area and most importantly be innovative in the way I represent women in my own art, working to convey my own honest and unique female perspective.

I paint women as real women, not just their empty shells. I work with a variety of models, women of various age, backgrounds and body types. All women are beautiful and fascinating in their own way, so I am never short of subjects. Our bodies are amazing, strong and capable of extraordinary things, they bring us pleasure and they can bring us pain. But we are also all different, some are inherently feminine, others are not. For example, I have always been more of a tomboy and feel misplaced in situations when binary gender roles are expected. On top of that, popular media focuses so much on just one type of woman, tall, slim, young, sexy, but this isn’t always beautiful, just repetitive, soulless and boring. Not many women relate to this kind of “beauty”.

There is power in our sexuality and our freedom lies in expressing it in our own way, not the way that the male dominated media wants us to express it. This type of sexuality is beautiful, born from the uniqueness and complexity of our experiences in the world. This is universal, it simply comes from being human.

Although visual beauty is most important to a representational artist like me, it is never just skin deep. I am always looking for a way to bring more depth, more truth and more meaning into my work.