Ask Morgana 112: Travis S Little

tsl1 detail from 'Still asleep'

1. ‘Still asleep’ (detail)


Modern realism again. I am coming to appreciate it more and more as I find artist after artist emerging with the technical power to use this concept of painting to good effect. Travis S Little is based in Indianapolis, but also has a pied-à-terre in Oro Valley, AZ. He says of his art:

I compose images out of a drive to create, using any means and media available to me, and in whatever combination that produces what I see in my imagination. Making a painted image is the most sincere and truthful form of communication I have available to me. I am inspired by connection and appreciation of the subject or form, or its environment and situation. My preference of subject will be that which can breathe, think, and feel.

I use mixed media and pigments, both traditional and unconventional, with commercial and hand-made materials and mediums. I use uncommon tools and applicators, and without prejudice to rules or convention. I strive for a level of realism that is consistent with life, over any heavy reliance on stylization or abstraction. My techniques can be unorthodox and without the constraint of traditional formulaic process — a rare benefit from being mostly self-taught.

My goal is that the final product is beautiful and inspired, and true to my best abilities without regard to being easily categorized.

His work includes wonderful studies of the human body – mainly female, but there is at least one painting in his portfolio of a naked man, his head wreathed in cigarette smoke. I can already here critics of this series of posts asking whether ‘erotic’ equates to ‘nude’, but I would point out that if Little exhibits at, for example, the Seattle Exhibition of Erotic Art, who am I to quibble? Little’s women (I say, neatly side-stepping an Alcott reference) are varied and beautiful. One may sit haughtily, as though enthroned on a chaise, with a backdrop of burgundy curtains and gothic arches (not shown here). Another may look at herself sideways in a mirror, checking out her body, wondering “Am I sexy?” (5) and (6) below. Three more may be twining together in a ‘tribe’ (not shown). The artist is comfortable with women of varied shape – he doesn’t stick to a preferred ‘ideal, but paints ‘real’ women – just look at the differences between the figures of items (2), (3), and (4) below.

One more thing: to my mind, the intimacy of being able to know the name of the subject of a painting – Lindsay Lee, Lauren, or Sarah – is erotic in itself. Lindsay Lee is very beautiful, and as for Lauren’s knowing smile…

2. 'Lindsay Lee' (detail)

2. ‘Lindsay Lee’ (detail)

3. 'Lauren'

3. ‘Lauren’

4. 'Eikon'

4. ‘Eikon’

5. 'Sarah's reflection'

5. ‘Sarah’s reflection’

6. 'Sarah's other self' (detail)

6. ‘Sarah’s other self’ (detail)


Images reproduced under ‘fair use’ provisions.

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