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Dagmar Kuechler

oil and charcoal
24″ x 16″

Clara Lieu, RISD Adjunct Professor

Clara Lieu
Art Prof & Partner

Artist Statement
“I am a figurative artist who likes to tell stories, finding inspiration in everyday life. Through my paintings, I seek to interpret the emotions and characters of the people who surround me. These emotive portraits are a snapshot of a moment in time, a thought on what it means to be present.

The expressionist execution in the faces I paint illustrates the truth: that change is constant, and nothing stays the same. I try to achieve this by experimenting with different materials such as paint, ink, carbon, chalk, graphite, watercolor paper, cardboard, wood, or packing supplies.”

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Video Transcript

“The expressiveness in your brush work is really exhilarating to look at. I love that we can see individual brushstrokesmany of which are so energetic and rigorous.

I’d reconsider your use of color. I think it’s totally fine that the painting is monochromatic, and the navy blue in the bottom left has a beautiful richness to it, but I do think that some of the white tones in the face make the face seem a little bit pasty.

The brown in the eyebrows and in the hair seems a little bit out of place. I would either paint over those areas so that you get rid of the brown, or I’d try to spread the brown into more areas so it feels more deeply embedded into the painting.

The neck and shoulders seem a little bit unfinished compared to the rest of the piece. I think they just need more paintthey need to feel more substantial. I would also rethink the composition: the portrait’s dead center, the person’s looking straight at us, it’s too predictable.

I’d try to avoid symmetry—get the face off center and do some thumbnail sketches to plan for that. Overall though I think the painting has a beautiful painterly quality. It’s a very bold piece that’s really captivating to the eye.”

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7 responses on "Dagmar Kuechler"

  1. I really enjoy your texture and your use of color – the color is really subdued but has an awesome effect! The play you’re using with the hair and the shirt is a great way to get the viewers attention. The colors do become a little muddy in the face, I think because of the mixing with the charcoal.

    Try out using oil sticks, or another way to apply color to your drawings and see what might come of that! I’d like to see what it would look like if you tried to draw as many of these faces and expressions as you could in one session – focus more on speed than craft, for the sole reason of seeing what parts of the face and body really catch your attention!

    Since you talk about expression and emotion as such powerful things, it would be cool to explore bringing that to a small scale: what part of the face changes when the models’ emotion changes? What subtle shifts start to happen? Nice work!

  2. The figure’s gaze is really intense, and draws me in immediately! There’s also a rich intensity in your brushstrokes, which is fantastic!

    I love how you’re experimenting with color and layering here. The areas in which you layer the charcoal and paint seem to be more resolved than other sections of the piece. With the layering, things like bone structure and lighting become clearer. For example, the lower neck/upper chest area seems flat and non-descriptive, while the nose, lips, and eye sockets seem to have more of a mass to them. I do, however, love the possibilities of the areas with minimal layers, like the neck. If you worked on refining your technique and descriptiveness here, I think these two visual elements would work better together!

    I love the energy and possibilities in this piece! You’re excitement and boldness with your techniques inspire me!

  3. Thank you for the detailed assessments. I will gladly try to implement the hints and advice. It is always helpful to get a different view of your own work.

  4. I’m really impressed by the range of mark making and your boldness in using broad and dark brushstrokes on the hair, neck, and shoulders. The portrait is very active and it’s a pleasure for me to read into parts of the image and see exactly how you are using these materials to sculpt the face.

    That being said, I’m kind of sad that this vibrancy and transparency of your hand doesn’t extend past the face into the white space of the image. I would lovelovelove to see this figure situated in space, even if it’s just simple lighting. Maybe look at Alberto Giacometti who uses similar sculpting techniques with paint, and grapples with similar ideas of change and drawing something that is “true”.

  5. A lovely portrait that’s truly expressive – not only of the personality you’re capturing but also your hand as an artist! Your painting has a lot of complexity in terms of the kinds of marks and brush strokes you’re using, but there’s also a simplicity and a frankness to your approach that’s really appealing.

    It would be interesting to see what you would do with the figure if you decided to zoom out a bit and show us more of the subject’s body… As I have a feeling you would have a real talent for conveying personality through body language, as well.

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