Shari Rubeck: Painting Significance with Whimsy
Contemporary artist Shari Rubeck uses watercolor and acrylics to create simple scenes filled with glamour, curiosity and chaos. Each brightly colored artwork beautifully explores the human psyche, with a suggested meaning that’s left open to interpretation . Her style is multi-faceted, each series develops its own sort of visual voice that usually involves some kind of animal imagery along with a sense of raw purity, the paint allowed to run and swirl organically in confined areas of the composition.
“Lion Girl” is a watercolor and graphite work that shows a woman standing defiantly, hands on her hips as her serene face is overlaid with that of a powerful lion roaring, the color of his mane melting into her fiery tethered dress. A girl in a blue dress leans impossibly far to the right in “Sharp Intrusion,” her head hidden by a glowing red space helmet with five birds flying towards it, as if they were working as a team to knock her over.
What’s the first thing you can remember painting?
The inside of my parent’s station wagon with crayons is one of my earliest artistic memories. But my first memory of painting would have to be when I received a good quality set of brushes and went to town filling large pieces of watercolor paper with all varieties of brushstrokes until I could think of no more.
What do you think watercolor adds to the creation of a piece?
Watercolors are fresh, light and have an immediate quality. I am working to bring that sense of luminescence to some of my larger acrylic paintings on linen.
What do you like about including animals in your work? Particularly bunnies?
Animals are a big part of my life and psyche. They are present often in my thoughts, dreams and work. They are my connection to the subtle workings of the world. They are magical, intuitive, and fierce, connected and make wonderful story tellers. As a human race we have turned our backs on them. Should technology suddenly drop off we would look to them for knowledge, guidance and find ourselves thanking them once again for sustenance.
The Bunnies arrived on the ‘scene’ soon after I began ‘working’ a puppet, named ‘Bunny’ for my son in his struggle to find comfort of sleep at bedtime. Bunny has a tremendously silly, but slightly cynical sense of humor and became my artistic story teller. The bunnies illustrate humor in the serious and not so serious sides of life’s events and emotions.
Who are the people your works represent?
The figures in my work represent all of us – humans and humanness. Some pieces are more representative of my own self and direct experiences, while others are observations from distant perspectives.
What do empty backgrounds allow for in your work and how do you choose a background for each character?
I fluctuate between giving color & detail to the areas surrounding my characters and leaving them alone in their space. An intense drive to express an idea, message or observation leaves me feeling that the figures can communicate strongly without anything around them. The blank or negative space is carefully considered and tells much about the tensions while simultaneously allowing for areas of visual repose.
What do you like about the image of a figure with a mismatched head?
A figure with mismatched head…isn’t that what we all are? Or I could elaborate and say that we are all different degrees of mask wearers. My Ego series transformed into the Alter Egos. The first Alter Ego shows a human wearing a bunni mask or a bunni wearing a human – there is some ambiguity. I have always been intrigued by masks and what they can represent. There is so much that goes on ‘backstage’. I do also love the weight of a head that is too large for its body; whether mechanical or creature.
What are some of the art websites or blogs you follow?
Some sites that I am affiliated with or keep up with are: BlueCanvas, Twitter, ARTCZAR, Elisa Contemporary, Artsrogueisland, GalleryZ, ColoColo, Hallway Gallery, and now of course ThingsWorthDescribing. I find many intriguing sites on random searches but may only visit them once.
Minor Situations is her newest series of bunny paintings that’s by far the most adorable – fluffy floppy characters shown after a small disappointment like burning toast, letting balloons go, or spilling milk. Their little bunny faces look so downtrodden, and their long ears allow for an exaggerated sense of unhappiness as they fall down the back of every bunny. Simple scenes against bright-colored backgrounds, these works are lovable in a silly sad way.
For more of Shari’s work, head to her website Art in Mind.