Oscar Hou
Portrait of My Mother

acrylic on canvas
32″ x 24″

United Kingdom

Annie Irwin
Teaching Assistant
Weaver, Painter, Textile Artist

“In this painting she has a tired body and smile. I painted this as tribute to my mother. Seeing how alike we look, her worn expression; ruminating about her constant pain of fibromyalgia, struggles as an immigrant, and death of her father — painting this has helped consolidate my thoughts on her tremendously.”

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3 responses on "Oscar Hou"

  1. Profile photo of Lauryn Welch

    Oh man, first of all your colors are SO GOOD! The sense of light and shadow emphasized by all the neutral “non” colors you’re using is just gorgeous, and I can sense the ennui in your brush strokes and color composition. My eyes are having so much fun cavorting around the space you’ve created, that I trip up over how you’ve painted the face, which comes across as fussy and careful and less expressive than the rest of your marks, as if you were concerned about getting your mother’s features exactly right. I think it’s interesting that Casey and I disagree on which direction you should take this. I think what that means is that you left the face at an in between point, and something emotionally or stylistically needs to be decided. Your energy and angst as well as the way you move paint across a canvas reminds me of Chaim Soutine and Oskar Kokoschka. Maybe look at how Kokoschka renders faces in his portraits.

  2. Profile photo of Clara Lieu

    I think what’s compelling about this piece is that although I know that this painting is primarily composed of oranges and blues, it seems like many more colors than that. The range and variety of blues and oranges you’re achieving is really striking, and it’s obvious to me that you are doing some serious color mixing, which is wonderful to see. You also have a firm grip on your light and dark contrast, which is frequently left behind when people work with color. My recommendation would be to make your brush work more varied, it seems like a lot of the smaller brushstrokes were all done with the same brush, they all have about the same width and it feels repetitive throughout the piece. I would trust your big brushes more, I know it seems like big brushes can “do less” than a thin brush, but actually, the opposite is true. I personally find thin brushes very limited, whereas thick brushes can really do a lot! Experiment and see how you can change up your strokes. I recommend looking at Lucien Freud and Jenny Saville, both have extraordinary brush work in their figure paintings.

  3. Profile photo of Casey Roonan

    Wow, I love the complexity of colors and the application of paint in this piece! In the portrait, however, I’d love to see more attention payed to the expression of the face, as opposed to the mark-making there… You’re so focused on the very specific, conflicting emotions of the subject in your artist’s statement, but handle that area of the painting in roughly the same way you render the folds of the bed sheets. As a result I read the chaos of your marks more immediately than the chaos of those emotions, and wonder how the piece would come across if you had more restraint in painting the face. Your work already has such an incredible energy to it, it would be interesting to see how you could scale some of that back (or ramp it up) in certain areas to carry our focus where you want it. That said, I agree with Annie – I want to see something like this on an even larger scale, with an even greater sense of the environment!

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