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Colorful Abstraction: Pastel Portraits by California Artist Alicia Sotherland

The Carpenter by Alicia Sotherland

This week EmptyEasel’s featured artist is Alicia Sotherland, a self-taught pastelist from Southern California who paints brilliantly colorful portraits full of energy and life.

When I first saw Alicia’s work, I was immediately intrigued by the way she seems to use sticks of pastel much like an impressionist oil painter would handle a brush.

Her loose, spontaneous strokes leave behind both color and texture, building up the entire surface of the painting until a final image is revealed.

In addition, the edges between subject and background are deliberately blended together to create dynamic, almost moving figures, caught just a breath and a step short of life itself.

In a way, Alicia’s paintings also manage to blur the line between abstraction and realism, which is something I’ve always found fascinating in art.

SEE MORE: Pastel paintings for sale at NUMA Gallery

The people in her paintings, she paints realistically, while rest of it often falls within the lines of abstract expressionism. For instance, in this next piece, it’s almost difficult to say where abstraction ends and the figure begins.

Intensity by Alicia Sotherland

Of course, the colors are fantastic enough that if it were just an abstract painting, I think it would still be appealing. The blue sky, the green and gold and orange—it’s like Autumn on a canvas.

And even in her simpler portraits, like the one below, Alicia still captivates with gorgeous color. . . and a little colorful abstraction.

José by Alicia Sotherland

To see more paintings by Alicia, please visit her website at AliciaSotherland.com

*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*

This week's featured artist is Karen Freedman, an abstract painter from Pennsylvania working in the medium of encaustic. Encaustic, as you may already know, is a form of painting that uses molten wax instead of oil, acrylic or water to adhere pigment onto a flat surface. What makes Karen's paintings stand out to me are the beautiful color. . . read more

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