Russ Mill’s figures are both striking, and a bit chaotic. They’re feminine, while alluding a sense of masculine power. Most of his work seems like a combination of ruthless experimentation mixed with very meticulous photography, and charcoal work. His work is raw, it uncovers the human emotion that lies underneath the beautiful girls faces, and allows their mind to be spoken in an unforgiving light.
Born in Exeter, Devon in the United Kingdom Mills began his artwork at a fairly young age. He received his Bachelors of the Arts in Graphic Design from Leeds Met University in 1995 and also attended Nothbrook College from 1990-1992. He was originally interested in working in film, and animation however, it wasn’t until more recently in his career that he realized his true potential lied in work with the computer, pencil, and paper. His favorite subjects to work with are female figures however, every now and then he plays around with an animal figure or two in his works. He’s had about five solo shows throughout his career and numerous group collaborations all exhibiting through various parts of England. His concepts revolve around people dealing with isolation versus those that deal with the untrustworthiness of people, and political statements. He enjoys working in the most realistic sense possible, avoiding filters at all costs to make his work as close to life like as possible.
The process he uses to create his work consists of many steps. Mills first collects sources he feels would be pertinent to the portrait he is working on. Such as random stripes of pencil marks, textured paper, and even toned paper. He simply draws the photograph he is working from and scans that in as well. He then delves into his chaotic experimentation, adding or subtracting pieces as needed. What I respect most about Russell Mills technique is his refusal to include filters into any of his work. This makes the work more realistic, and shows of his true skills, instead of the computers high tech talents.
This piece on the left is probably my favorite piece out of his works. Looking through numerous galleries of his works, and endless amounts of portraits I always seem to come back to this one. The figure’s face is rendered beautifully. The detail in her eyes and lips sets the atmosphere for the rest of the painting. The figure seems relaxed, submissive, and a bit naïve, as though nothing in the world could harm her. However, surrounding her is a chaotic scene slashed with harsh lines, and quick spurts of paint. The limited color palette only brings more attention to the figure herself. What I absolutely love about this work is Mill’s use of high contrast. The piece blends together so cohesively and the high contrast only pulls out the points of interest in the work.
His works all convey a sense of chaos, and motion. The portraits have a dark, almost eerie look to them. His figures are seemingly translucent. Their harsh outlines, and quick pulses of shading and, highlights only illuminate a hollow figure. It’s almost as though these figures are ghosts of various people. They lack a soul, themselves and are mere reflections of what has happened in the past. They reside in Mill’s alternate universe which is ultimately controlled by him.