“The starting point for the ideas behind many of my paintings is the turmoil that is so often a part of the mortal experience. Whether this occurs between people, between people and their surroundings, or is strictly internal, the adventure of living is wrought with these conflicting moments of pride, fear, sadness, and hostility.”

Rachel Bess is a recipient of a 2017 Artist Research & Development Grant.

Artist Research and Development Grants are designed to support the advancement of artistic research, aid in the development of artistic work and recognize the contributions individual artists make to Arizona’s communities. For more information about the Artist Research & Development Grant, click here.

Bess will take four months in 2017 to improve upon her current understanding of indirect painting. She will do this by studying several historical texts relating to the techniques of carefully crafting the layers of oil paint and media that were used to make the luminous and lifelike paintings from the 17th-19th centuries. She will then bring models into the studio and create paintings with those techniques using some suggested historical materials as well as modern material equivalents where appropriate. There will be some trial and error with this, both in finding ideal modern material equivalents for the pigments and media and in the process of putting the ideas from the texts into practice. Bess’s primary goal is to improve her painting by furthering her knowledge and practice of the science and techniques of underpainting, overpainting, and glazing, of which very little accurate, in-depth information is currently being shared or used.

Bloodflakes Spilling from a Torn Lifeline, Oil on panel, 10″ x 8″, 2016

Rachel Bess graduated with honors from the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University in 2001 with a degree in Painting as well as a nearly completed degree in Anthropology tacked on for fun. Her work is known for its lifelike realism as well as its thoughtful and sometimes dark subjects that reflect her ability to notice and convey subtle emotion and mood. She is currently represented by the Lisa Sette Gallery in Phoenix, Arizona, and her work is shown in many galleries and museums around the world. She is in numerous prestigious collections and publications and has received many accolades but perhaps more importantly, she is a hard worker and is awesome at meeting deadlines.