Evana is a talented portrait artist with a tremendous capacity to capture the likeness and very essence of her subject matter. Her background in architecture and interest in the dynamic perspective underpin her approach to portraiture. Evana works mainly in chalk pastel and pencil, and frequently works to private commission. Today we chat to Evana and find out what inspires her work.
Did you always want to be an artist and how did you get started?
Yes. But I never believed that it would actually happen. I went on to pursue a career in architecture instead. From a young age though, I enjoyed sketching my friends and family while they were sitting; or making quick sketches of an interesting stranger.
I have always focused my attention on art and the sciences, so it felt like a natural progression to study Architecture at University which I did, graduating at Masters level. This suited me perfectly as I loved detailing and a lot of the different modules included art related assessments such as life drawings, self portraits, human ergonomics, Fibonacci while focusing heavily on perspective studies.
Two years after graduating I found myself on maternity leave and that is when I really started experimenting with portraiture. My husband is an artist so I had all the materials to hand ready to get started. I became hooked and started selling portraits of famous Irish faces and quick sketches of strangers. As my work gained traction on social media, to my delight I started to receive enquiries about commissions . My first commission was a family portrait of the late Barney Devlin, the title character from Seamus Heaney’s famous “The Blacksmith”.
Who or what inspires you as an artist?
For me art can act as an extremely direct form of communication and can represent emotion intensely and with great immediacy. I enjoy catching people in a daydream or capturing the subtleties of emotion in their face. People inspire me to paint when I get a sense their authentic spirit, whether it is through soulfulness or elation.
The design concepts of the architect Richard Meier: “light is life” really resonated during case study of his work in university. His buildings were all entirely white, to emphasise the way natural daylight can change a space. His building designs experimented with different methods of projecting the natural daylight into a space, creating interesting tonal contrasts and shapes with light and shadow.
Through my own work I like to simplify the detailing back to the raw traits in order to capture the beauty of the subject which I like to represent against a white background. I also like to play with light to give different degrees of tonal strength in my work. The most beautiful paintings capture the raw vulnerable emotion of the subject as well as the likeness.
Have any other artists been influential in your work ?
Growing up with art, I have always been interested in the mathematically inspired artist, Mauritus Escher, famous for his tangled tessellations, and Salvador Dali for his heavily detailed, subconscious imagery.
Currently, I feel drawn to the imagery created in work of Nicolas Roerich. Although the imagery he paints are a combination of landscapes and figures, he strips everything back to represent the simplicity of the beauty as he sees it.
What makes your pieces unique?
The detailing features to capture a likeness contrasted with organic paint flow which depicts the emotion and personality of the subject. I try to create a dreamlike/whimsical quality in my artwork. Sometimes I use an unpredictable positioning of the subject on the canvas to contribute to the of the story I am trying to convey.
Eleanora, my daughter, is a motif in my work which allows my artistic development to be traced through the years in parallel to my own development as an artist.
Is there a specific technique that you use?
I try to incorporate the versatility of acrylic paint into each painting, using it like a watercolour for some parts and an oil to other parts. I like some of the features to be detailed well and other parts I allow the paint to drip and find its own way on the canvas.
Do you have a favourite material that you work with?
Acrylics at the moment for all of my artworks, however I started out monochrome with white chalk on a large painted blackboard.
What projects are you currently working on?
Typically I balance the creation of original artwork for our gallery in Portrush with private commissions for clients, usually portraits. I am busy at the moment preparing my work for the Love Your Home Show and the usual festive rush. Amongst these are; atmospheric seascapes, whimsical portrait and figurative studies and some pieces which focus on social commentary. Beyond that, I have a line-up of more light studies within portraits and figures. My daughter “Eleanora”, is often a recurring theme for experimentation for portraits.
Do you have a favourite pieces or one that you are most proud of?
I am particularly pleased with the outcome of a recent large seascape painting, “Restless” which will be on sale at the Love Your Home Show. It is a large 60”x16” deep edge canvas which conveys the transience of the sea and its ever changing moods and emotions, constantly reinventing itself.
“Humanity” is a large abstract social commentary painting, which illustrates people towers and the importance of peer support for the survival of humanity.
I create prints from of my most popular paintings such as the large “Eleanora Bubbles” piece, which is whimsical and dreamlike, encapsulating the wonder and awe of childhood.
“Eleanora”, also a popular image, was an experimental portrait where I attempted to capture the essence of wide eyed vulnerability. The mix of soft and languid brushwork combined with a delicate colour palette gives the piece an iridescent quality.
Where can we buy your work?
I share a studio and gallery space with my husband “Adrian Margey Art” at 99 Mark Street Portrush, where you can call in for a chat and view my work. We are open Saturdays 11am -5pm throughout the year. Private viewings can easily be arranged by telephoning me on 07746208381.
Free tickets to Love Your Home Show Belfast
Get FREE tickets to the new Love Your Home Show, Belfast. The Love Your Home Show 2018, created for home lovers will take place in the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast 12th-14th October 2018.