“It is my sincerest hope to make women feel empowered and uniquely beautiful just as they are.”
Even though I’d been making art my entire life it never became a professional goal until my mid 20s. I’d always wanted to become a teacher because I loved learning and wanted to instill that passion in our youth. People generally like to say that high school “was the best time of their life”. It was the opposite for me. I didn’t fit in socially and was often bullied. In some cases my teachers even took part in ridiculing me and it wasn’t long before I realized kindness and maturity have nothing to do with age. Because of my personal experiences I wanted to become a teacher that students would feel comfortable coming to with their problems. I wanted to be there for those who had no one else to talk to. I worked my hardest to achieve this goal and while I do have all the necessary education and more, it just wasn’t meant to be. After I graduated the teaching market in Ontario was incredibly flooded and it was impossible for me to find work.
After years of feeling like my dreams were unattainable I decided it was time to start a new dream, a dream that had been within me all along but seemed too“unrealistic” to ever give it a try. If my “realistic” dream wasn’t panning out then it was time to go big! I’d already been making art part time so thanks to the support of my family I decided to go full-time. With that support and years of hard work and dedication I am proud to say I have been a full-time professional artist for 4 years now.
What keeps me so motivated is the message I try to spread using my artwork and my online presence. It is my sincerest hope to make women feel empowered and uniquely beautiful just as they are. The amazing feedback from fans that I’m fortunate to receive really keeps me passionate and excited about my work.
“True Beauty”, “Alisha Gauvreau”
IFWA..You mentioned you were dissatisfied with the way the medias represent women. What do you disagree with?
I disagree with the lack of variety we see in our media. Quite often the women portrayed in magazines and advertisements fit into the stereotypical “norms” for beauty. Generally they are thin, young, and predominantly white. These women are gorgeous but so are others! I believe ALL women, regardless of age, size, ethnicity, and personal style, are beautiful in their own unique way. My message is not one the condemns the beauty of women who fall under societal norms but rather encourages all women to see themselves as beautiful. I would love to see larger women and women of different ethnicity incorporated into our mainstream media. I feel that variety is not only beautiful, but is the key to solving the epidemic of low self-esteem a lot of today’s women suffer from.
IFWA..Do you see an evolution , or is it still the same as when you first noticed it?
I have definitely seen things change since starting my practice. A trend that’s becoming more popular is the acceptance that women come in all different shapes and sizes and that these shapes and sizes do not necessarily correlate to their health and certainly do not impact their ability to be beautiful. Perhaps I’m seeing this because I surround myself with like-minded people and am interested in topics that follow this type of thinking but I truly believe it is becoming more common and I can only hope that this continues.
IFWA..Did you ever had any difficulty working as a woman, to find work, or be accepted as a portraitist ? If so, what did you do to help you go through the difficulties ?
It’s hard for me to say whether or not I’ve been held back as an artist because I’m a woman. Honestly I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have had a good amount of work from the beginning. I think my skill speaks for itself and people who don’t respect women would likely not find my work interesting anyways as it revolves around the well-being of women. The only thing that I’ve noticed is how my language is interpreted differently, very likely because I’m a woman. I’m quite confident about my skill and my work. I would never dream of thinking I’m perfect or even better than others, in fact I never compare myself to other artists, but I have come a long way over the years and I’m proud of that. On occasion I’ll receive comments saying I’m “arrogant” or “pretentious” which is always from someone who doesn’t follow my practice. It’s frustrating that a woman’s confidence is seen as arrogance. But then again, I try not to take too much of what is said from strangers to heart. No matter what you do ,there will always be someone out there who dislikes you. You just have to be self-aware and know you’re doing the best you can do.
–Color inspired, RAW
IFWA..I must say your pencil drawings are quite touching…How is it working in black and white compared with color, or is it a question of medium?
Thank you! It can sometimes be a question of medium. For example if someone requests a charcoal drawing they’ll obviously be receiving an image in black and white but then again I do sometimes make the choice to do black and white with something like oil paints just because it gives off a different emotion. At this point in time I believe I prefer to work with color. The brightness and variety makes me very happy. But I can say from experience that working in black and white is much easier. Your eyes aren’t required to take in as much information. You’re focusing on darks and lights rather than colors as well as darks and lights. I think in the end it’s all a matter of preferences and I’m certainly willing to do whatever my clients wish.
—A Mark of Beauty
IFWA.. Your portraits of women really captures their personality . Who are those women and why them?
Oh, I’m so glad to hear that. Thank you! When I first began doing portraiture I had to prove my skill so I would often work from images of models and actresses who had inspired me in some way. Now that I’ve gathered a following and people are confident in my skills I am able to put calls out to the public for images. Generally when I’m working on a new series I’ll post throughout social media asking for submissions of beauty stating that all women are welcome to apply. From these submissions I am able to choose, sometimes at random, who will be represented in my new works. I LOVE this! This was certainly a goal I had in mind when I first started because I truly want to show “everyday” women just how stunning they really are. So yes! They absolutely can be people I don’t know and have been! Anyone can submit to my calls! The more the merrier. :)
–One and the same
IFWA..Are you tempted to work with other medias then the ones you are using -mostly oil and acrylic -, say sculpture, clay, photography ?
You’re right! Most of my work is done using acrylic paint and oil paints. BUT I’m also a Mixed Media Artist so from time to time I like to pull out quite a few of my different supplies and put them together in a new series or artwork. I use pencil, charcoal, pastel, watercolor paint, gouache paint, encaustic (wax) paint, and have just begun learning airbrush. As far as sculpture and photography go … No, I’m not tempted to use them. My father is a sculptor but that just never appealed to me. I prefer working in the 2 dimensional plane. I do LOVE taking photographs, especially when I’m traveling, but I believe my shots are better used as reference photos for my artwork rather then incorporated directly into a piece. But you never know! Perhaps that will change in the future.
IFWA..Do you have any interest in working with other artist , collaborating on a common project / exhibition / performance?
It’s definitely fun to work on collaborations with other artists as long as they have a similar work ethic. I take my work seriously so I would expect anyone I work with to feel the same way. Putting together a show with another artist and maybe creating a collaborative piece for it would certainly be something I’d be interested in.
IFWA..Is there a particular piece of work you are really satisfied with ? If so, why?
One of my favorite pieces to date is “True Beauty” ‘Delena Providence’. Why am I so satisfied with it? Hmm that’s a tough one. I believe it’s because of the look I achieved with the eyes. They are very mesmerizing. Another reason I might be so drawn to this piece is because it depicts a young woman who’s been in my life since I was toddler and I always felt she was special and worthy of being honored in this way. It could also be because this piece took a very long time to complete, putting in each strand of hair one at a time, so there is a sense of accomplishment and time well spent. And lastly because of the variety in her skin tone. Such bright whites and the dark shadows all taking shape harmoniously in one portrait is a bit of a rare thing and I like how it turned out in this piece.
“True Beauty”,‘Delena Providence’
IFWA..What direction is your work taking , now?
I currently have an abundance of commissions I must complete so I haven’t allowed myself to go too overboard with planning original artwork/series. I do know that I would like to continue proving that a variety of women are beautiful using “everyday” women. I think that in order to change things up.
I’d like to start including geometric shapes with my portraits as a way of contrasting my realistic portrait style. I also plan to work on wood when I find the time in order to allow some of the natural grain to show through. In all truth I have a huge list of ideas I’d like to get to but for now it’s time to pay the bills. Working on commissions, while isn’t as creative, has it’s own rewards. There’s nothing like creating something that will be cherished and passed down from generation to generation.
On a smaller,scale, I’ve done collaborative works with my fan base, many of which are artists themselves. I held a contest this past year where anyone was able to take my initial drawing and turn it into their own artwork. It was amazing seeing all the different outcomes. You can check it out HERE.
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