My mentor sent me a list of influential contemporary artists to explore. In her words, "Some of them are about color. Some are about paint quality. Some are about composition. Those elements should be in important in ALL your new work, including your portraits that you want to include in your MFA work."
Here are her suggested artists:
Trisha Adams, Vadim Zang, Yana Golubyatnikov, Diedeker, Sandra Flood, Katy Schneider, Wayne Thiebauld, Mary Beth McKenzie, Irwin Greenburg, John Howard, Gregory Manchess, Ying Liu, Michael Hussar, David Shevlino, Ramona Youngquist, Darrell Hill, Ann Gale, Skip (Malcom) Liepke and Joseph Lorusso.
Out of the entire list, I was drawn to a couple people right away and for the same myriad of reasons Chris suggested.
Out of this list, my first choice to study was Sandra Flood. I just love her portraits, the muted palette with just notes of vibrant color. Her portraits have emotive qualities while still being subtle. Her influences are Egon Schiele; Lucian Freud; Degas; Motherwell; Whistler; and Antonio Lopez-Garcia.
The particular painting I studied is titled "Blue Amy" 12x12 oil on linen. It is actually much more colorful than her other ones, but I also thought it would be very difficult...and..it was!