Tina Spratt | Artist of the Month

Congratulations to Tina Spratt, our January 2012 Artist of the Month. Her work, The Black Dress, was chosen from our list of finalists in the portrait/figure category of The Artist’s Magazine‘s 28th Annual Art Competition.

The Black Dress, oil figure painting by Tina Spratt artist, art competition

The Black Dress (oil, 26x26) by Tina Spratt

Tina Spratt
Burnham-On-Sea, UK

How and when did you get started creating art? Describe any art education.
I’ve been painting and drawing for as long as I can remember, but officially studied BA (Hons) Illustration at University, before deciding on a change in direction toward fine art and becoming fascinated with oil painting. I now paint for a living, it’s my only occupation.

What media and genres do you work in?
The constant theme in my work is the female figure, mainly using oils although I occasionally use pencil, pastel and charcoal.

What was your inspiration for The Black Dress?
I like to capture a sense of vulnerability and everyday intimacy in my work; the sleeping figure is a constant inspiration for this. I’m interested in the effect of fabrics next to the figure, and the white sheet and angle created a wonderful pattern and structure to frame the figure. I was also drawn to the unusual contrast of the black evening dress being used in the setting with the sleeping figure.

Tell us about your process.
I would prefer to work from life but frequently use photographs, especially when creating an unusual angle such as this. Even then the final painting varies quite a bit from the original photograph. At this stage I alter composition and play with the lighting and content, creating a series of roughs before I start on the actual painting.

My typical palette consists of:
Titanium white
Zinc white
Yellow lake
Cadmium Yellow
Yellow Ochre
Cadmium red
Alizarin Crimson
Burnt Sienna
Burnt Umber
Ultramarine Blue
Cobalt Blue
Ivory Black

How long do you spend on a typical painting? What about this one in particular?
I usually spend around four to six weeks on a painting, but I’m often working on a few at one time so it can be longer as I often leave one to rest and come back to it with a fresh eye.

Were there any surprises or difficulties along the way as you painted this work? What was your favorite part?
My favorite part was painting the patterns within the white fabric and capturing the subtle changes of color in the folds. I think the most challenging part was creating the right balance between the heavy black dress and the pale surrounding fabric; I wanted to bring out some detail of the darker fabric but had to be careful not to overwhelm the eye with too much detail. I always enjoy capturing the mood and likeness of the model.

What inspires you to create art?
A combination of things, most importantly the light. I’ve always been fascinated by the effect light has on the mood of a painting and its ability to bring the image alive. I also find I need to feel some connection with the model emotionally and aim to create a pose that feels natural and introspective. Finally, settings inspires me, whether it’s because of fabric or a specific location, I look for interesting patterns, textures or features that could complement the model.

Artists of the Month are chosen from the list of finalists of The Artist Magazine’s Annual Art Competition.

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