Why Do I Train in Classical Art?

In a world dominated by galleries representing contemporary styles in art, it is an overwhelming decision to know where to begin when it comes to selecting an artistic style. The truth is I am equally inspired by artist like Jean-Michel Basquiat as I am by artists like Rembrandt and Monet. I think there is room for all kinds of artistic expressions because art represents a unique voice and a statement. People paint for different reasons and in different ways. My first encounter with art was actually from my relatives who painted in a more “contemporary” form. One was a graphic artist/designer, and the other is a graffiti artist. Notice I put quotes on the term “contemporary.” The truth is, any art done recently is in fact contemporary. I decided to call myself a Contemporary Realist because I am influenced by many styles of art and have integrated them into my work. In fact, I am inspired by art from many cultures.

My art will never look like those done in the Renaissance or those painted in another time period. However, I have chosen to train in the Classical Realist style. The reason for this is because I was always drawn to strong shapes and contrast in art. I also love the challenge. I know when I copy older drawings and paintings, I am pushing myself to learn from them. I love structure in painting, but I am also drawn to representational art that tells a story. I love chiaroscuro used by painters like Velazquez and Caravaggio and I am excited by the challenge of depicting the movement of light. I also love Classical Greek Literature and philosophy, which have inspired me to look at art and beauty differently.

When I first began my artistic journey, I was attracted to Representational art, specifically to the more Classical style, which is classified as Western art. I studied from several people who painted from life and in a more traditional way. I hardly encountered people of color doing what I did until I joined social media. I hardly ever saw people of color represented in Renaissance art, and If they were, they were never the object of beauty or the prime focus. Of course, cultural norms and demographics were different. Still, I wondered what it would be like to see Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” painted as a Black or Brown woman. There are quite a few painters today that have embarked in this journey, however, very few I know are Black or Afro-Latina. Although I enjoy this style for my own personal reasons, I know that there is power in who I am and who I represent. I don’t want anyone to ever say to me that the color of my skin, gender, or any other socially constructed identifier prevents me from painting a certain way and push me to paint in any other way. We are only free when we can paint how and what we want.

See more: www.vanessawithun.com

Excited! New body of Work!

I am really excited to become one of the recipients of the J. Shepard, Jr. And Mary Ann Bryan Arts Endowment for The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida as part of the Art Ventures Grant. I am excited to push my art and produce larger scale pieces and a new body of work. Thanks to all who had shown me support recently and over the years!

I will be working a several larger pieces which include portraits, still-life, and figures.

I will be producing two of my largest pieces over the next year.

V.W. Art Studio @ http://www.vanessawithun.com

Peering Through the Trees: Oil on 18″ x 20″ Canvas

Peering Through the Trees: Oil on 18″ x 20″ Canvas

I’m fortunate enough to have a tiny preserve right behind my backyard. I decided to paint the wetland area. This is on 18″ x 20″ Canvas. I can’t wait to more studies like this. I feel as an artist we shouldn’t get lost painting what others want us to paint or what society tells us is appropriate to paint in order to get noticed. In a time where people’s ideas are so heavily influenced my social media and identity politics, it is important that we remain honest with ourselves. These are things that should inspire us naturally. It has always been about aesthetics first no matter who or what I paint. The rest is always left to interpretation.

Lemons and Teapot: Oil on 8″ x 10″ Canvas

Lemons and Teapot: Oil on 8″ x 10″ Canvas by artist V.W. http://www.vanessawithun.com

There is something about lemons that makes me want to paint them. I think of bright happy summers. I painted this in alla prima, wet-on-wet, and left some visible brush strokes where the light hits directly.

Inquiries can be made using gallery website’s contact tab: www.vanessawithun.com

Insta: @v.w._art

Happy New Year! First Painting of 2021

Hope everyone had a blessed holiday and a Happy New Year’s Day!

For the past few weeks I had been busy moving and happy to say I am settled in and ready to paint!

I decided to revisit an old photo that I painted from a while back for this painting. The other painting similar to this has sold so I don’t have a reference of my first approach. I was surprised at how much I remembered the process, although I feel this one turned out a little bit different.

As someone who grew up in an urban city in NY, I was captivated by the coastal scene and wetlands of the South. Perhaps it is because they are mysterious and full of wonder. There is beauty, but also darkness and mystery. The twisting twigs can appear chaotic and tell a story. I feel it is reflective of who I am. I can’t say this piece it is quite done, so I will leave it alone for a bit and come back to it.

Silent Stream: Oil on 18″ x 18″ Canvas
Underpainting progress…

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contact: http://www.vanessawithunfineart@gmail.com for pricing information!

Art Show and New Painting!

Hope everyone who celebrates had a happy Thanksgiving. Like many of you, I am looking forward to the continuation of the holidays! My solo show in Savannah was a success. Some of my paintings found homes.

Since I have not posted a painting in a while, I will post this one I am currently working on…

I didn’t know how realistic I wanted this to be, but I wanted to tease the viewer somewhat. Would love to hear your thoughts. What do you think of when you see a rose, specifically a yellow rose? Most people think of pink or red when you say the word rose.

Yellow Rose: Oil on 10″ x 8″ Canvas by Vanessa Withun

Keep Watch: Oil on 24″ x 24″ Wood Panel

Keep Watch: Oil on 24″ x 24″ Wood Panel, by V.W.

This is a painting a began about a year ago. I decided to put it away and sort of forgot about it until recently. I remember being unsure about it back then, but there were elements I really liked. I painted this from my imagination. Today, I decided to add some touches to it to bring out the contrast and color. I also used a different medium back then, so I don’t want to do too much to change the effect of the old medium which consisted of a special old masters blend. Wood panels have been one of my favorite surfaces, besides linen, to work on.

See more: www.vanessawithun.com

Classical Portraits and Art Shows

Portrait of William Sanders Scarborough on 16″ x 12″ Wood Panel by Artist V.W., 2020

I began painting this one a couple of years ago and it was initially commissioned for a public symposium dedicated to African Americans in Classical Literature in Savannah, GA. I was able to acquire this piece again and it will now be shown at The Telfair Museums’ Jepson Center for the Arts in Savannah, GA next months. What makes this piece important is that I was unable to locate a picture in color so I had to recreate this from a black and white photo. From what I know, there are very few paintings of him, if any. He is known to be the First African American Scholar in the Classics going from slavery to becoming president of Wilberforce University, in Ohio. He also wrote a classical Greek textbook for students.

Woman with Pearls: Oil on 18″ x 16″ Wood panel by Artist V.W.

This portrait is inspired by Vermeer’s famous painting “Girl with a Pearl Earing” and the style of Rembrandt. This is actually a portrait of the late actress Esther Rolle, the famous American comedian from the show Good Times. I used her as the model due to her beautiful smile. This painting will be feature at the Ali Cultural Arts Center in Pompano Beach, FL on October 30th until February 22nd, 2020.