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John Seed

John Seed

12 Paintings of Women, 12 Studio Visits

Posted: 01/27/11 05:47 PM ET


Artist Cynthia Sitton at work in her studio.
Panoramic photo by Keaton Siomkin

This week, my series on paintings and palettes continues, with a few added touches. My e-mail box has been filling up with remarkable paintings, and one of the trends I couldn't help noticing is that many of them are paintings of women: an eternal and universal subject. The range of roles and meanings behind these paintings is dizzying and inspiring. Nine of this week's featured images are women painted by women, and three are women painted by men.

To whet your appetite, I should tell you that you can expect to see an allegorical figure in Betty Shelton's "Remembrance," a saint in Cynthia Sitton's "St. Dyphna," and in Margaret McCann's stunning painting "Rotary" you will see a giantess reclining on a traffic circle. Add a passive aggressive mother, a diva, a muse and a Hollywood stylist, and you get some idea of the range you can expect.

Each of this week's diverse paintings is accompanied by a studio photo: in some cases it is the artist's palette along with some technical information, and in some cases the artists have provided studio views. There are also informative commentaries with many of paintings, meant to help all of us understand the ideas behind each image.

To each of the artists who provided images and text I say "Thank You."

If you are an artist -- or if you know of an artist -- who would like to be featured in a future slideshow, please email me at:

Simon Hennessy:
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"Peace and Harmony," 2010
160 x 90 cm
Acrylic and pencils on polyester

Simon Hennessy: "The people I use in my paintings all have a common factor that connects them, individuality, appearance and visual attitude. Consistently throughout all of my works there's the element of physiognomy, the study and act of judging a persons outer appearance, primarily the face, which serves as an insight into their personality or character.

A lot of my images arise by chance and are sourced through meeting people unknown to me whilst out and about. If I notice someone interesting and they have a certain quality that I consider would make a good source image for a painting then I ask them if they wouldn't mind posing for me, so a majority of my photographs I work from are quite spontaneous and not pre-planned.

The painting "Peace and Harmony" is one of these images. I took the original source photograph whilst on a trip to New York City visiting galleries and gathering inspiration. I met this particular model inside the Adidas originals store on Wooster Street, Soho. There were a lot of style conscience people working in the shop but I was drawn to her straight away because of her striking appearance and charismatic nature.

As I recall it was a pleasant sunny day so I asked her to come outside the store and into the natural sunlight. She was very relaxed and kept pulling lots of different poses without much encouragement from me, so I just let her do as she pleased and her relaxed bubbly character definitely comes across in the painting. Eventually she started making peace signs at me which I stuck with and choose for this particular painting. I thought her friendly smile coupled with the peace sign and her 70's retro style was quite apt and all integrated well together as a composition."

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