Alexandra Tyng Profile

Becca in Her Prom Dress (oil, 46×36) by Alexdra Tyng was a finalist in the 2005 Art Competition in the Portrait and Figure category.

MEDIA AND GENRES: ?I paint landscapes and portraits. I?m not a believer in strict boundaries: Often I include landscape and still-life in my portraits. Though I work primarily in oils, I also like drawing with different kinds of pencils.?

MENTORS: ?My mentors were my parents. Though they were and are architects by profession, both drew and painted. They brought total creativity to their work and life and they imparted this attitude to me by example. We lived in Center City, Philadelphia in a community of artists, writers and musicians who were also teachers and professors. Living there definitely had a profound effect on my development.?

START CREATING ART: ?College was an influential point in my life. I decided to go to an academic school rather than art school for two reasons: At the time (1971), representational art was not popular, and most art schools de-emphasized the aspects of art that were important to me; also, I was accepted into Harvard and decided not to pass up the opportunity to get an excellent liberal arts education. This proved to be a good decision as I ended up majoring in art history, wandering around the Boston museums and seeing first-hand the incredible collection of Copleys and 19th-century art.

At this time, I really became aware of Sargent?s work. I remember walking into a room and being struck by Boit Children. The painting tool up almost an entire wall, and the illusion of atmosphere and mystery and space was compellingly real. Also in college I took a wonderful drawing course taught by William Reimann, which opened my eyes and permanently changed the way I approached drawing.?

HOW HER ART HAS EVOLVED: ?When I look at my old work, I?m shocked at the harshness of the value changes, the insensitivity to edges, the inaccuracy of the color! Even paintings I did two or three years ago suddenly look worse than I remember them. With respect to subject matter, though, my work has remained pretty constant.?

PROCESS: ?I begin a painting by thinking about what I want to say and how I want to say it. The concept forms in my head and I might make a thumbnail sketch of it.

When I?m making a portrait, I take a bunch of photographs of the person and spend a while looking at the variations on the pose, thinking about the composition, the lighting and how my original idea might be expressed. When I feel myself narrowing t down to a particular choice, I make a color sketch of the person on a small canvas. Then I take good quality reference photos (I just bought a digital camera and I think it?s going to make life a lot easier for me) and transfer the image to the canvas using a combination of a large grid and freehand lines. As I?m painting, the color study helps me remember exactly what colors I put where and reminds me to say loose and spontaneous.?

TIME SPENT ON A PAINTING: ?Usually I spend two to four weeks, maybe three hours a day, working on a painting. It depends on how large the painting is. Portraits take longer than landscapes. But I can spend weeks, even months, working up to the painting stage. This particular painting took longer because I kept tweaking it after I thought it was finished.?

Edited by Lisa Wurster, associate editor for The Artists Magazine.

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