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Jeanne O'Shell

Painting

My current body of work focuses on dolls as the subject matter. I use dolls as a surrogate for the self, a way to access events and feelings much like child at play or a couple in a therapy session. I plan on using this as a transition between painting still life back into painting the figure. I hold the believe that the figure is the most powerful shape in art no matter what form it takes.<br> When I attended PAFA in 2010, becoming a painter wasn’t feasible to me. My passion was drawing comics and my exclusive goal was to perfect my drawing of the figure. In my mind the most powerful tool in art was a relatable protagonist, which could only be done visually by mastering gesture, proportion and anatomy. Although drawing the human body was my focus, some painting courses were mandatory and naturally unavoidable. As I painted outside of class, I gradually enjoyed it more and eventually declared it my major. My original outlook of becoming a comic artist vanished, I became very fond of Japanese culture which inspired me to make collages out of washi paper once I entered my studio years.<br> Up until a year after graduating I worked in collage almost exclusively. Eventually I began to try and cut extremely tiny pieces to make gradients. It became very frustrating, so I made the switch back into painting. I moved back into my parents and the only space I could make work in was the basement, which needed a massive cleaning. Here I found my old childhood toys, the kind of toys aimed at young girls. Dogs with long eyelashes and pearl necklaces, Barbies with glittery studs in their ears and hares that lived in cupcakes. Things that were very politically incorrect to assume that little girls wanted, and yet I did want it. Even today, the color combinations I favor most are the ones from old toys I cherished, which also were also like the washi paper I used.<br>There are companies that know what we want better than we do. My assumption would be they are mostly made up of men, perhaps these men knew me better than I know myself? I began to think that the feminine wasn’t a mystique but one of many algorithms that companies market to. I became fascinated with the dolls, a way for young girls identify with an object, to feel unique when in reality they were anything but. When at play a young girl feels like a protagonist but she is actually part of a larger machine. <br>When painting, I attempt to have the mentality of an engineer. I tailor my palette to my subject matter and try to stick to five colors or less. I try to think of what is the least amount or brushstrokes I can complete the painting in. What is the most efficient way to utilize the brush? Perhaps it’s better if I use something other than a brush, a knife or a found object might be more suitable. I spend more time planning than painting the final product. <br>I plan to continue to explore the relationship between dolls and the female figure. How an adult views a doll is very dissimilar to how an adult views the female nude, which I find it very fascinating since they share so many visual similarities. And I still hold that the best way to explore a visual relationship is with painting. <br>