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Eerie Portraits of Youthful Subjects by Adele Knowler

A mixed media portrait in profile viewFlight, oil, gold leaf, and acrylic paint on wood panel

Adele Knowler is an artist based in Alberta who uses oil painting and mixed media techniques to create eerie portraits of youthful subjects. Adele’s figures, in recent works, are depicted in partial abstraction, with the finished images giving the viewer an impression of a face rather than every detail.


An oil painting of an obscured portraitBenjamin Clementine 1, oil and gold leaf on wood panel

I’m interested in the way Adele’s recent portraits seem to bleed onto the canvas, becoming more distorted the long the viewer spends looking at them. Adele’s works also favor a heavy contrast between her subjects’ faces, and their hair, and backgrounds. Often, figures are imagined with pale skin and delicate features but dark, undefined masses of hair, which serves to further enforce the ghostly aspects of their appearance.


The gallery of 2017 works on Adele Knowler's art websiteAdele's gallery of work from 2016-17


These works also speaks to a technically interesting method of dragging oil paint, as well as mixed media such as gold leaf across canvas. I wonder if the artist begins with a more detailed, polished looking image and then purposefully obscures it. In other galleries, such as her Humans and Water series, the artist embraces a very polished mode of figurative painting. 


A painting of a woman walking along a pierThe Road Less Taken, oil on canvas

About the author

Dallas Jeffs Art Writer

Dallas Jeffs is the Editor of Artist Run Website's blog. They hold a degree in Critical and Cultural Practices from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, as well as a certificate in Technical Writing from BCIT. Dallas has a passion for speaking and writing about art, and sharing that interest with others. In their studio practice they are an illustrator and budding tattoo artist, but they consider themselves a writer foremost. If you like art, books and culture with a science fiction twist, check out Dallas' personal blog, HappySpaceNoises or their art on Instagram.

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