Felicia Forte is an American painter and painting instructor whose work is strongly focused on portraiture. Most of her paintings are very expressive, close-up portraits which are clearly psychological. She doesn’t like to embellish and simplify people’s features – instead, Forte prefers to depict people just the way they are, without concealing any physical flaws. Also, she is fond of representing any kind of fleeting, minor feeling as precisely as possible. Her portraits show a wide amplitude of human states of mind and this emotional diversity is one of the key values when it comes to Forte’s work.
Forte was born in Los Angeles in 1979 and she studied fine arts at the California Art Institute in San Francisco and the Art Students League in New York. After graduating from the art institute, she showed interest not only in starting her career as an artist but also in teaching art students to paint portraits alla prima, which means directly on the canvas, without any underpaintings. Painting alla prima has to be completed in a single session since the paint needs to remain wet and it is impossible to correct any mistakes later. This kind of direct, immediate painting is a challenging approach and students have to be fully aware of every stroke they make and every color they decide to use. Forte excelled in this method herself and is proud to share her knowledge with art students.
The artist’s portraits are all done in a very recognizable style that she has built over the years. The facial features of her models appear very prominent because of the strong light resembling the lighting used in photo studios and also the backgrounds she uses are somewhat similar to backdrops in photography. But this is where the similarity of Forte’s work and photography ends – even though her work is representational, we cannot call it photographic because her lines and shapes are bold, dramatic and not utterly controlled. She is letting her models’ emotions appear uncensored in her portraits and this approach brings a strong sense of rawness and immediacy. The value of Forte’s portraiture is already recognized – in 2014 she participated at the Plein Air Convention and Expo in Monterey, California and in 2015 her self-portrait was exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in London, where it won the best portrait award. Forte’s artworks have been shown in numerous group exhibitions and she was also Artist-in-Residence at de Young Museum of Fine Art in San Francisco.
It is interesting to observe Forte’s way of painting, since she likes to pick a facial feature she finds most enticing on someone’s face and then concentrate on emphasizing that feature, no matter if it’s something beautiful, like lively and expressive eyes, or something imperfect, such as a strong nose or blotched skin tone. Forte proves with her portraits that anything can be made special and worth attention, if shown in an insightful way, from a different point of view and without sticking to preestablished visions of beauty.
The artist is represented by Abend Gallery in Denver, USA.
Featured image: Felicia Forte working in her studio
All images copyright © Felicia Forte
|2016||Nexus||Abend Gallery, Denver, CO||Group|
|2016||Animalia||Abend Gallery, Denver, CO||Group|
|2015||25th Annual Holiday Miniatures Show||Abend Gallery, Denver, CO||Group|
|2015||TRAC2015 Invitational Art Exhibition||TRAC Conference 2015, Thousand Oaks, CA||Group|
|2015||Urban Life||Abend Gallery, Denver, CO||Group|
|2015||BP Portrait Award Exhibition||The National Gallery, London, UK||Group|
|2015||Unfurl||Gallery 1261, Denver, CO||Group|
|2014||Urban Aspect||Principle Gallery, Alexandria, VA||Group|
|2014||Pay it Forward||Principle Gallery, Alexandria, VA||Group|
|2014||Women Painting Women||Principle Gallery, Charleston, SC||Group|
|2014||These are a Few of My Favorite Things||Principle Gallery, Charleston, SC||Group|
|2014||Exhibiting Artist at The Plein Air Convention and Expo||Monterey, CA||Group|
|2013||(R)evolution: Women Painting Women||Principle Gallery, Alexandria, VA||Group|
|2013||Women Painting Women International Juried Exhibition||Townsend Atelier, Chattanooga, TN||Group|
|2013||The Man Show||Kwan Fong Gallery, California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, CA||Group|
|2012||Still, Life and Land||Maxwell Alexander Gallery, Culver City, CA||Group|
|2012||One Hundred Dollars||Littlefield, New York, NY||Group|
|2012||City Streets||Studio Gallery, San Francisco, CA||Group|
|2011||Tiny||Studio Gallery, San Francisco, CA||Group|
|2011||National Juried Exhibition, All Media 2011||Chico Art Center, Chico, CA||Group|
|2011||Fresh Air: Landscapes of California||Fremont Gallery, Pasadena, CA||Group|
|2011||Contemporary Painters, Bay Area Exhibition||Arc Gallery, San Francisco, CA||Group|
|2011||Members Show||1870 Art Center Gallery, Belmont, CA||Group|
|2010||Drawings and Paintings||1870 Art Center Gallery, Belmont, CA||Solo|
|2010||Doll House||Arc Gallery, San Francisco, CA||Group|
|2010||Coastal Art League and Museum Annual Juried Show||Half Moon Bay, CA||Group|
|2010||Fall Fusion||1870 Art Center Gallery, Belmont, CA||Group|
|2010||Spring Open Studios||1870 Art Center Gallery, Belmont, CA||Group|
|2010||Daydreams and Nightmares||Gallery 25, San Mateo, CA||Group|