My favorite subjects to paint are people and animals; they have a way of provoking in me deeper emotions than the traditionally beautiful landscape, seascape, still life, or abstract would. Even in childhood I was drawn to sketching faces over and over again like the idiomatic dangling carrot challenging me to achieve likeness. That challenge still feels fresh as I try new color palettes on skin and transfer to canvas the connection I perceive with my subject, even through photographic references.
I prefer oils to any other medium. A flexible, forgiving medium gives me the freedom to experiment with visual ideas yet produce an end result that is calculated and intentional. Plus, I’ve always loved the way they smell… so earthy! Inexplicably, the aroma of linseed oil and paint calms me. Maybe it’s simply the sense-memory of finding my own peaceful space in a chaotic childhood household when I painted.
Since I’m also a musician and music is a vital source of inspiration and life-force for me, many of my choices for subject matter are music-related. I began by painting portraits of world-renown musicians; my way of honoring their value in this world. Then somehow musical elements crept in to many other compositions. When I listen to music, images flow freely in my mind, almost begging me to paint them. So I have to!
Coming from a grossly dysfunctional, broken home where NOT feeling was the path to survival, I became intrigued by the causes, effects, and many methods of numbing our “feeling function” as penned by Carl Jung. When I learned that Dr. Jung’s interpretation of the 13th Century myth, “The Handless Maiden” perfectly described not only those causes & effects, but the solution to regaining our feeling function, I decided to bring that awareness to society through my art by painting adult hands in silver. The more I paint people and animals, the closer I feel to humanity.
--- Loretta McNair