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Heads Above Water
September 27, 2008 6:59 PM   Subscribe

Laura Sanders paints realistic portraits of people swimming with their heads above the water.

Her Resume. From this months issue of New American Painting.
posted by wittgenstein (47 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
She does nice work, but she is really specialized...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 7:20 PM on September 27, 2008


Done from photos? (Don't get me wrong, it's still impressive even if that's the case, but I just imagined someone getting all that detail purely from their imagination, which really would be freakin' amazing...)
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:22 PM on September 27, 2008


Done from photos? (Don't get me wrong, it's still impressive even if that's the case, but I just imagined someone getting all that detail purely from their imagination, which really would be freakin' amazing...)

I could have all the photos in the world, my painting would still look all blobby and crooked...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 7:30 PM on September 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah,... totally awesome.
posted by odinsdream at 7:32 PM on September 27, 2008


This is really neat, thanks.

Also, it's nice to know that even if I couldn't paint bodies, or backgrounds, or shadows, or dry hair, I might still have a future as a painter.
posted by borborygmi at 7:35 PM on September 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I want to see this concept applied to dogs. I always wondered what dogs are thinking when they're swimming, because a lot of them seem to like swimming, but at the same time their face looks like they're on the verge of freaking out.
posted by p3t3 at 7:36 PM on September 27, 2008 [6 favorites]


Rule 34.
posted by DU at 7:40 PM on September 27, 2008


I like these a lot but yeah, my first reaction was "these were painted from photographs".
posted by bradbane at 7:41 PM on September 27, 2008


From the International Swimming Hall of Fame, newsreels of Chairman Mao and the Yangtze, 1966.

Keeping your head above water, indeed.
posted by cenoxo at 7:43 PM on September 27, 2008


This is a rare example of realistic paintings done from photos that I'm certain far exceed whatever the original photo had to offer. The paint surface looks beautifully applied and yet there's a nice sense of tension in the marks that coincides with a sense of foreboding in a lot of these images -drowning is a not so subtle implication, but, just as in these subjects, it mostly lurks just below the surface.
Thanks for the link.
posted by stagewhisper at 7:43 PM on September 27, 2008 [6 favorites]


They sure are realistic. Not my cup of tea, but the woman has great skill.
posted by Mister_A at 7:55 PM on September 27, 2008


God! Humans are so weird-looking...
posted by alexei at 8:02 PM on September 27, 2008


Goregous. Thank you.
posted by tristeza at 8:05 PM on September 27, 2008


Unless I missed something, seems like all the heads-above-water images are of women . . . which, in my mind, adds another layer of possible meaning . . .
posted by treepour at 8:06 PM on September 27, 2008


Her next series involves the same people after she's drowned them. (Why oh why is my imagination so warped?)
posted by jamstigator at 8:23 PM on September 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


Nice brush work on that stuff.
posted by Max Power at 8:25 PM on September 27, 2008


Ah, love these paintings. More of her her works in this series. They're evocative portraits of ephemeral moments, being a kid playing in water, endless summer hours playing in water. I can feel that water.

I love paintings of the endlessly fascinating beauty of the surface of the water, the sun dappled patterns, what it does with color.

Her more conservative portraits.

Thanks for the post wittgenstein.
posted by nickyskye at 8:38 PM on September 27, 2008


all the heads-above-water images are of women . . . which, in my mind, adds another layer of possible meaning . . .

Oh, dear.

Beautiful painting. The one of the clothed, red-headed young woman was particularly enchanting.
posted by resurrexit at 8:39 PM on September 27, 2008


They used to call that style of painting, photo realism Laura's in the same league with Chuck Close
posted by hortense at 8:44 PM on September 27, 2008


Those are beautiful. They immediately brought to mind some water-centered paintings by Alyssa Monks (one image in slideshow NSFW) that I saw a few months ago.
posted by des at 9:01 PM on September 27, 2008


Extraordinary, and thanks.
posted by sluglicker at 9:04 PM on September 27, 2008


I love Larry Sanders! Oh, wait. Never mind.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:33 PM on September 27, 2008


"Faye" looks like she's drowning...
posted by Jahaza at 11:23 PM on September 27, 2008


Um. It appears you are misprepresenting this talented painter. This is her "Heads Above Water series" - this doesn't seem to imply to me that she only paints such pictures.

Great paintings though. Did the DUMBO arts festival today and didn't see one piece as good as that.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:08 AM on September 28, 2008


This might be a nice approach to suggest to any corporate portrait clients who want a touch of originality. The Boardroom could have a long line of pictures of former chairmen in suits, and then suddenly one in the pool.

Another painter of realistic swimming pictures.
posted by Phanx at 2:44 AM on September 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


compelling & beautiful - thanks for this, wittgenstein

p3t3 says: I want to see this concept applied to dogs.
here you go - my favorite painting by Goya

and thanks too to Phanx - those Eric Zener pieces are also quite amazing
posted by jammy at 4:32 AM on September 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Done from photos with colour refrences probably taken from the dropper tool in Paintshop.

Still, as pointed out above they are beautifully painted, and the subjects are great. Especially the first few at the top of the page. Must be hugely enjoyable to paint those.
posted by fire&wings at 4:45 AM on September 28, 2008


I want to see this concept applied to dogs ...

playing poker.
posted by bwg at 4:56 AM on September 28, 2008


You know who else was a painter, right?
posted by kcds at 5:37 AM on September 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I want to see this concept applied to dogs ...
playing poker.


Yeah, but how do you get a bunch of dogs playing poker together in the water long enough to get a decent photo to paint from?
posted by p3t3 at 6:00 AM on September 28, 2008


Yikes.
posted by willpie at 6:28 AM on September 28, 2008


Done from photos with colour refrences probably taken from the dropper tool in Paintshop.

I'm not by any stretch of the imagination what you would call a painter, but how exactly would this help?
posted by odinsdream at 7:13 AM on September 28, 2008


Unless you're colorblind and need to know whether something is red or black, or green or yellow, I guess.
posted by odinsdream at 7:14 AM on September 28, 2008


Lupus_yonderboy: Point taken. I should have mentioned that this was a series.

Thanks to nickyskye (and others) for scoping out more paintings.
posted by wittgenstein at 7:47 AM on September 28, 2008


These are amazing and beautiful.
posted by MarshallPoe at 8:13 AM on September 28, 2008


I know that there are a handful of other Ohioans here - note that she has a gallery in both Columbus and Cleveland.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:38 AM on September 28, 2008


These are beautiful, beautiful paintings. I'm not sure I grok the concept - is there some "deeper" message that she's trying to evoke with the theme, because I'm not getting it. Maybe I just spent too long in art school. Anyhow, they're marvelously done and really gorgeous as pieces, even if I have no idea what she "means."
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:54 AM on September 28, 2008


is there some "deeper" message that she's trying to evoke with the theme, because I'm not getting it.

Must there be a deeper message than the brushstrokes?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:23 AM on September 28, 2008


Odinsdream, you'd probably be really surprised at how hard it is to truly match a color. Online thingies like Interaction of Color and Color Is Relative demonstrate how the properties of how we perceive color can shift with scale and reverberations.
posted by redsparkler at 10:59 AM on September 28, 2008


I mean, you might be surprised.
posted by redsparkler at 10:59 AM on September 28, 2008


Must there be a deeper message than the brushstrokes?

Like I said, man, too much time in art school will do this to a person's brain. Search for "deeper meaning" that is.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:30 AM on September 28, 2008


Er, why the "oh, dear," resurrexit?

I liked these a lot, and the question really stood out in my mind: why only women? Is there something offensive or idiotic about asking this question?
posted by treepour at 12:15 PM on September 28, 2008


Maybe it's because women are physically more beautiful than men. I guess that's subjective though. And for the record: yes, I'm a man, so naturally *I* would find women more beautiful than men. But women have smoother skin and complexions, fewer hard angles, more gentle curves. There's just something innately more artsy about the female form, or at least *I* think there is.
posted by jamstigator at 1:16 PM on September 28, 2008


Maybe it's because women are physically more beautiful than men. I guess that's subjective though.

yes, it really is...

And for the record: yes, I'm a man, so naturally *I* would find women more beautiful than men.

except for all those men who naturally find men more beautiful...

I know you didn't mean anything bad, jamstigator, but sometimes that kind of normalization of heterosexuality really gives me a nasty itch & I just gots to scratch
posted by jammy at 4:34 PM on September 28, 2008


anydangway, what I really came here to wank go on about was the whole "deeper meaning" thing (a most definitely subjective subject) - for me, seeing people in water, especially in art (frozen as they are in a particular moment of expression & movement & time), speaks of some combination of both vulnerability & belonging - we can drown in water, and yet we can also float - as such, there's something very evocative of mortality about these images, that sense of being suspended between being & nonbeing, between individuality & world beyond

it's like the Goya painting I linked to earlier, El perro semihundido: when I look at it long & deeply it sort of wavers back & forth between tragedy & triumph - at times, the dog seems small & struggling, the journey has been long & perhaps there is no end, just endless roiling ocean, waiting to swallow her up - at others, she seems like she is making it - is, in fact, swimming upwards, into golden light, unconquered, strong & joyous

so, yeah, the sea within the womb, where we all float around for nine months before entering the dry world, and the sea where everything alive once came from, which still covers most of our planet & makes life possible - human beings floating in water? I feel like the deeper meanings rush out towards me in such images, flood me with emotion & ideas both potent & moving

(hmm... maybe Elaine Morgan was right?)
posted by jammy at 4:43 PM on September 28, 2008


But what's so artsy about smoothness and curves, jamstigator? Plenty of good art is harsh and angular. Smooth-curviness really isn't a universal 'artiness' indicator, just a sexual preference shared by approximately 50% of the population.

I kind of find the head-above-water paintings make me a teeny bit anxious. I wonder if these women and girls are ok, if they've just popped their heads up for a breath as you'd naturally do in a lot of swimming styles, or if they're struggling to keep their heads clear. Is it partly to do with the title of the series, do you think? It's a common phrase to indicate 'just getting by, not doing brilliantly'.
posted by harriet vane at 2:43 AM on September 29, 2008


Here's another two nice ones I found that aren't included in that gallery website; 1, 2


is there some "deeper" message that she's trying to evoke with the theme.. is a fair question to ask. Water is very symbolic, as is its use of it here to, in a sense, seperate the body and the head in two different environments. Her choice of doing a series also seems to reinforce the idea that she's wanting to communicate something through them. To me, anyways.


There must be some significance to her choice of only painting women in the water, but I can't find an obvious connection. First I thought about vulnerability, but a lot of the girls don't look like they are in danger or very worried about being in water. This is one of those places where I'd really like to read an artist statement.
posted by troubles at 5:09 PM on September 29, 2008


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