Interview with Rachel Mercer: Contorted Figuration

Interview with Rachel Mercer: Contorted Figuration

Rachel Mercer has not long ago joined Rise Artwork. Rachel paints to seize the movement and steps of folks in their dealings with area and each individual other, examining actual physical and psychological connections by way of dynamic portraits and contorted compositions.

Rachel drawing outdoor near a playground.


How would you explain your type and the work you create?

I paint figures in dynamic and occasionally contorted positions, they appear captured in motion, shifting by means of the house. The figures meet up with the planet and just about every other and convey bodily and psychological connections. The paintings are in oil and mainly from creativeness or memory. I crank out the imagery by drawing the areas I have been, men and women I have seen including people today I know very well. 

My paintings are characterised by the seen brushstrokes and layering scrapped and wiped surfaces from time to time skinny, with times of impasto. I want every mark in the painting to signify how I perceive items. I have a specific interest in the texture of skin and clothing, and this is mirrored in the surface area quality of my artworks. Fragmented brushstrokes categorical the complexities of binocular vision and the distortion of space accounts for being able to see 180 degrees in our peripheral eyesight.

Vanish, 2021, oil on Board, 83 x 64cm


Inform us a little bit about the inspiration behind your apply

It is interactions amongst people that I discover most inspiring. Due to the fact my imagery is about lived working experience and initially-person observations, the most important way I obtain inspiration is by observational drawing.

Climbing frame review, 2022, oil paint on paper, 90 x 76cm and a swift sketch of a baby climbing


How do you go about selecting the subjects and scenes for your paintings?

My drawings help me choose a topic. Drawing whatever catches my eye at times reveals items I didn’t know about my passions. I also like to believe that when I’m drawing, I’m visually absorbing and adding images to my psychological databases, so that when I’m again in the studio the drawings acquire me back again to the remembered knowledge. Sometimes I paint right from the drawings but at times, the memory of drawing is more than enough. I don’t use photographs for the reason that, for me, they distract from additional experiential and tactile recollections. When I 1st start off a portray it is much more like a drawing in colour, if this fails to fulfill or sense true to me then I will paint more than the leading. Overlaying photographs brings in an component of probability, at times the image reveals by itself.

Amputation, 2022, oil on Board, 17 x 23cm


How has your follow progressed in recent years?

In the past yr I have moved absent much more narrative sorts of figuration. My apply now aims to embrace possibility and openness. Chance solutions produce alternatives for a higher perception of motion and rhythmic fluency in just the painting. The loose brushwork indicates the figures appear someplace concerning presence and disappearance. I now obtain the procedure of painting very releasing I am taking pleasure in the elevated connection concerning impulse and painterly mark.

Alone Yet again, 2021, oil on canvas, 90 x 70cm


What’s an typical working day like in your studio?

A cycle experience to the studio indicates I’m mentally and physically raring to go. I will begin with studio admin: priming, stretching or making ready surfaces. I might then get the job done on a painting commenced the evening before, I discover its great for regularity if I decide on-up where by I left-off. If things go well, I could possibly be portray the whole day, having said that if items are feeling sticky I could possibly do some drawing. If a drawing has prospective, it’s an celebration celebrated with the start out of a new portray.

Rachel’s short term studio area and some operates in progress at Dumfries Home


What/Who are your essential influences?

I am specially fond of Rembrandt’s ‘A Female Bathing In A Stream’ (Nationwide Gallery) and his ‘Self-portrait with Two Circles’ (Kenwood Household). From the age of 13 I was in I appreciate with Rembrandt’s use of paint and texture that tends to make skin and material look alive. Gwen John’s ‘The Convalescent’ (at the Fitzwilliam Museum) was also a massive affect on me as a university student. I was also really affected by Chinese ink painting from the Track Dynasty. Researching at the Royal Drawing School lead me to artists like Leon Kossoff, Chaïm Soutine and R.B. Kitaj who aided me see how my practice and tuition in Chinese brush portray could be applied to figurative illustration in oil paint.

Excellent Wall, 2019, oil on board, 102 x 76cm


Who are some Increase Art artists with operate you are taking pleasure in at the moment?

I have adopted Robbie Bushe’s function for a though on Instagram, I enjoy his scenes of imagined, futuristic cities, he’s just one to get quicker instead than later! Through Increase Artwork I uncovered the do the job of Kate McCrickard, her paintings are emotional and tender but also powerful with some gutsy painting, I seriously appear forward to viewing the operate she posts upcoming. 

Catastrophise, 2022, oil on canvas, 42 x 60cm


Are you currently operating on any thrilling new tasks?

I a short while ago returned from a residency at Dumfries Dwelling, Scotland organised by the Royal Drawing College. This two-week residency was a chance for sustained, uninterrupted portray. It was excellent simply because I was equipped to shift seamlessly between outside painting and studio perform. I am currently performing on a overall body of paintings on the topic of children in playgrounds. The artist’s studio at Dumfries dwelling is correct future to a children’s park, all around lunchtime when the playground was busiest, I produced drawings of the young children actively playing. If the playground was empty, I designed scientific studies of the playground architecture: slides, climbing frames and see-saws.