As an artist, I’m impassioned by 30 painting portraits of the human figure; as a person I need to express the primary emotions of human existence we all feel.” — Tracy Vera
Tracy Vera is an established oil painter from Southern California whose artistic capabilities transcend far beyond the mere stroke of a brush. With a seemingly innate capacity to expel true, often disquieting, human emotion through a meticulous use of light, dress, facial expressions, bone structure and body language, each of Vera’s numerous, mostly large format, portraits vibrate with the deeper life stories of the subject at hand. Pain, loneliness, frustration, desolation... It’s this dark, unapologetic radiance — this naked sense of self — that makes Vera’s work so compelling. “There’s a universal aspect to these emotions which emphasize the universal connection among us all.
Vera is the third generation of a long line of house painters. “My great grandfather would paint portraits and landscapes with the leftover house paint,” she laughs, her blithe, personable nature often converse to her grave canvas work. “I started painting and drawing to illustrate stories I wrote. When I was 11 I thought I’d be a writer ‘when I grew up.’ But eventually I stopped writing and just illustrated. When I was 16 I took a watercolor class. On the first day the teacher had me switch to oils because he liked my style and thought I already had oil painting experience.”
Tracy’s mannered-realist style is one of beauty and intrigue, an intrinsic fascination with psychological struggle giving each print a hauntingly sobering edge. Her portraits, much like the mannerist style of the late renaissance, are often skewed with specific features purposely exaggerated to accentuate a deeper sentiment; her deliberate but fluid brush strokes, intricate detailing and demonstrative focus on a central theme lending further depth to already poignant concepts.
Though inspired early on by Lucian Freud’s ability to communicate the wonder of life and death through radiant nudes and Marlene Dumas’ uninhibited, often punishingly direct, work centered around social taboos, it’s Vera’s habitual questioning of human nature, stress as CFO/General Manager of Metal Blade Records and her own admittedly contradictive character, that propels her artistic visions.
“I’m kind of odd,” she readily admits with a smirk, “organized and yet spacey; controlling and yet sometimes ambivalent about what to do next. I guess everyone is a seething mass of contradictions and anomalies or we wouldn't be very interesting. My art is my passion. Painting keeps me sane.”
“My pregnancy inspired me a great deal, getting older… there has to be some benefit to aging,” the career mom continues of her recent creative stimuli. “I also look to music and movies for inspiration. Some directors actually take on the role of a painter so I carefully absorb each frame for compositional inspiration. For example, The Diving Bell And The Butterfly [a film adaptation of the French memoir Le Scaphandre Et Le Papillon]; director Julian Schnabel is a painter and almost every frame looks like a painting to me. Or David Lynch’s films [The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet et al]. It’s readily apparent from the way the shots are staged and colored, that he has an artistic sensibility.”
The artist’s recent painting however was inspired by 2006 documentary Deliver Us From Evil. Here she was moved not by the picture’s creative composition but rather its irreverent subject matter centered on the true story of Catholic priest Oliver O'Grady who sexually abused over two dozen children for more than a decade.
Vera received her master’s degree in painting from California State University in 1997 and is currently a member of the Los Angles Art Association. In 2000 Vera won second place in the juried figurative show at Long Beach Arts for “Green Shoes.” In 2003, her work caught the attention of esteemed artist Gordon Fuglie when “Caught” was accepted into the Palm Springs Desert Museum National Juried show. Touted the Los Angeles Times of her exhibit at the Orlando Gallery: “A kind of neo-noirish atmosphere mixes with the psychological imagery to create narratives without closure. We end up as voyeurs, projecting our own character judgments on the figures in the paintings.”
Vera is currently working on a series of small scale portraits of some of the strong, creative womenin her life she admires and/or knows personally. For further info contact: