Read all about Chelsea Gibson’s new work in her own words:
Recently there has been a big shift in my work away from live observation to using photographs. This change has allowed me to focus on formal and painterly ideas that were percolating in earlier work. I really enjoy the already flattened, special quality it can lend. I can relish the dramatic effects of light and shadow; the way light can cut through a space, virtually erasing information; or that a shadow adds layers of colors and shapes, like a veil. Using a model in real time cramped my concentration, making my work feel to me more like studies, always changing, and never going in a direction that I could fully explore. Using my own photographs has allowed me to make more decisions at an earlier point in the process, making it possible for me to control the light and shadow, keeping them just where I want them.
Using photographs can sometimes seem like a shift away from a pure painting place, but it actually allows me to get closer to the work, and in some ways closer to the person I’m painting. I can stare at the smallest part of a shadow, dissecting and inspecting it, becoming intimate with all of the shapes and colors that make a form come together. I wouldn’t be able to do that with a person in real time. I also have enjoyed feeling a little farther away from my actual models. Not being in the same room while I work on them, I feel like I get to know them as a stranger would. Staring at a stranger requires compassion and humanity, so my working process feels a bit closer to the viewer’s experience of observing a person they don’t know. I get to know and, in a way, create a person by experiencing the shapes that make them, how their colors meet, where their forms come together or break apart. These formal ideas make my work more about painting itself than creating a likeness, which I have always wanted from portraiture.