Skip to main content

Oscar Hou
Portrait of My Mother

acrylic on canvas
32″ x 24″

United Kingdom

Annie Irwin, Painter, Weaver, Textiles Artist

Annie Irwin
Weaver, Painter, Textile Artist

Artist Statement
“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.”
Purchase a critique or Skype consult

Video Transcript

“This piece is stunning visually. I feel like I’m in another world when I’m looking at it. The way you’ve captured a subject in a portrait and, managed to make it this emotionally captivating, I think is so impressive.

I love the colors. Your use of colors captivates a mood and, I think that’s a very difficult thing to do and you’ve accomplished it expertly here.

I also love how you paint with shapes. I don’t get a sense that you’re painting for necessarily photo realism, but I love how your shapes are creating larger shapes, which create the relationships. That really work within the painting.

I think your composition is excellent and, your color also plays so well into lighting. And that particular lighting that you’ve given the piece, helps create an overall mood that I think is just wonderful.

I’d love to see you go even bigger next time, showing what an entire environment could look like.”

Donate to keep Art Prof free for all!


4 responses on "Oscar Hou"

  1. Wow, you are knocking it out of the park with your color palette for this piece! It’s such a minimal palette but you’ve pushed it to the limit and it’s doing some great work for you. That, combined with a composition that encourages my eye to examine the whole page is really making this piece successful!

    Your mark making is keeping the drawing alive and vibrant, and just makes the expression of the face so much more real! I would like to see some more variation in your line weight and the application of the paint. The same size and shape of brush stroke appears in every part of the drawing, and some variation therein would help us to establish a focus, and also help the sense of space really be carved out in this piece! Think of it this way: with your exciting mark making, we are traveling through the whole piece, which is excellent – but by changing up your line weight and strokes, you can change how fast we travel, and how long we stay in certain areas of the piece.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

Leave a Message

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.