Owen Normand is a Scottish contemporary painter, he combines observation and creativity to paint wonderfully expressive figurative pieces. Owen was winner of the BP Portrait Young Artist Award in 2013 and has since exhibited in New York, Berlin, Edinburgh, London and more.
He says “my work mostly revolves around the theme of awareness of impermanence. I am very interested in the Japanese term ‘mono no aware’, which describes being both appreciative and saddened by witnessing life’s transience. Recently I have started work on a series that is more specifically about consciousness itself. It’s about wakefulness and sleep and about how even when we are awake, sometimes we are merely going through the motions, so wrapped up in our thoughts that we are barely aware of our surroundings.”
Owen has a range of influences and inspirations. “I am influenced by artists from the past like Velazquez, Manet, and Kollwitz to contemporary painters who are continuing the tradition of figurative painting in very exciting new ways like Lenz Geerk, Grace Weaver, Alex Foxton and Robin Francesca Williams. I think it is a really exciting time for painting just now.”
Owen developed his techniques in art school through life drawing. “I have always had an interest in realist art so I made an effort to acquire knowledge around things like proportion, perspective, tonal value, edge control and colour”.
His painting process involves several stages: “When I have an idea for a painting I jot it down in a pencil thumbnail sketch in my sketchbook. The most interesting of these get investigated further with small colour studies on paper in acrylic and then, if I think it’s still worth exploring, I will start a larger underpainting on canvas with burnt umber. This helps me make refinements to the composition and understand the lighting. I prefer the warmth of the burnt umber to a grisaille as I find if it shines through here or there it has more life than a flat grey. I will then work over the top of that in a colour layer and sometimes add some glazes at the end. Varnishing my work to give the colours more saturation. I find this helps especially with paintings that have a lot of darks in them.”
Owen’s advice for fellow artists: “I find any time you want to paint a scene with strong lighting, squinting your eyes will help you break it down into its simplest shapes. I also find that doing an underpainting is really useful, as you can make lots of difficult decisions before you bring colour in.”
See more of Owen Normand’s works below!
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