Carly Cummings is a portrait artist who was raised in South Portland, Maine and is currently living in Hudson, Massachusetts. She graduated with her MFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Washington in 2013, Seattle, and has a BA in both Studio Art and English from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, in Geneva, NY.


    I paint portraits to speak about the human condition rather than simply portraying a physical likeness of my subject. I focus on the face because it reveals much about people’s thoughts and emotions. I usually leave out clothing and hairstyle, which continually change, and rather focus on expressions and features to try to capture an inherent part of who we are. I am also intrigued by the relationship between the artist and the subject and how that translates to the viewer.

    Lately I have been moving away from just the face and exploring ideas of memory, nostalgia, and ambiguity. I often work from photographs because I like how they freeze a passing moment, but just like working from life or memory, a photo doesn’t truly speak until converted into the language of paint. I have been using recent photos from my phone and exploring way of reinterpreting the moment and the fluidity of memory. Although I use expressions caught in typical conversation, I look for moments of particular intensity and emotion and then emphasize them with format and compositional choices. I am drawn to ambiguity and like to use sources and create paintings that can be interpreted in various ways.

    I base my value structure on my source material, but I look to complement the expressions and specific mood of the piece with particular color choices. I choose my colors very instinctually and they tend to be very extreme and vivid—enhanced from reality. I find it important that each color holds various connotations, many of which are clashing or ambiguous, and which differ from person to person.