There was no way I could avoid researching more about Mark Demsteader in my final ten artists. He is insanely talented when it comes to rendering the human figure. Born, in 1963 in Manchester, England Demsteader received his education from Rochdale, and Oldham College. His media of choice varies. He typically enjoys working in oils however, he does enjoy including gouache, pastel, and charcoal in his works. In order to create such realistic portraits Demsteader took many figure drawing classes, and practiced much on his own. He developed his own style which he is known for today. He usually completes one part of his figure, which is usually the head, adding immense detail, and paying careful attention to every attribute on their face. Then for the rest of his canvas it is all up to experimentation. In many cases, he will abstract the figure into merely a few lines leaving the work seemingly unfinished. In other cases he adds a wash of various colors, or a series of drips that cascade down the canvas.
Demsteader wanted his figures to be a bit of a mystery. He creates them so that the viewer develops curiosity about them and, can fill in the gaps themselves as to who the figures are or, what they’re feeling.
The newest inspiration for some of Demsteader’s portraits has been actress/model, Emma Watson. It’s been all over the internet, and the news that Demsteader created a group of paintings for Emma’s 21st birthday. Some of the proceeds of the sales of these paintings of Emma went to a charity called CAMFED international which helps with donations for children’s education in Africa. Demsteader said his main purpose for creating these works was to capture Emma in the moment of being 21. So that she can look back and remember who she was at the very moment in time.
Oddly enough, some of my favorite works of Demsteader’s are probably the drawings he’s created. I’ve always been envious of those who could manipulate charcoal, and pastel to create figures. It’s obvious that he is very technically skilled, and can capture the figures emotion and spill it out onto paper almost effortlessly.
His paintings on the other hand are a bit darker. They do not have the open space that many of his drawings do instead, he fills up the canvas with paint. They are full of texture, and movement. He uses a limited color palette in most of his paintings and, just like his drawings, pays careful attention to the face and bust of the figure, letting the rest transform into a mesh of color. His figures are very soft, delicate creatures, and are placed in a harsh, overbearing background. This contrast between the pastel colored girls, and black abyss of the background adds a sense of mystery to his works.
My inspiration from Demsteader comes from his unfinished pieces. I’ve always loved the finished/unfinished look, and he is truly a master at it. He uses just the right amount of detail in his drawings to the point where it’s not overwhelming but, instead instantly stunning.