In Alumni, Department of Design

Rachel Christensen recognized for series depicting egg still lifes that often represent human skin tones

BYU illustration alum Rachel Christensen was recently selected by Southwest Art magazine for inclusion in the feature “21 Under 31: Young Artists to Watch in 2020.” Her art series focuses on representational realism by using egg still lifes to depict different human skin tones.

“This year, I have had the privilege of working closely with master artist Patricia McMahon Rice through the Portrait Society of America’s Cecilia Beaux mentorship forum,” Christensen explained. “Patty noticed that I had a serious gap in my ability to specifically paint black and brown skin tones. She advised me that brown eggs actually approximate certain skin tones, so as COVID started to become a problem and social distancing made it impossible to really paint from life, I began arranging egg still lifes.”

Christensen noted that although the series began as nothing more than a study on skin tone, it has come to have a lot of meaning to her as a representation of her improvement as an artist.  

“Before I put down any paint I gather a few pictures of paintings by master artists, aspects of which I want to emulate in my own piece,” Christensen said, “As I start to paint, I keep my inspiration images close at hand and use them to bridge the gaps between my abilities and my goal for the image. I know I’m finished when I’m pleased with every single inch.”

Southwest Art is considered one of the most prestigious publications of representational realist paintings and sculptures in the nation. Every September for the past 20 years, Southwest Art has published a special feature called “21 Under 31” featuring 21 talented artists who are under the age of 31. The editors work with art galleries, art schools, ateliers, workshop instructors and many other sources to find the candidates for this special feature. Having grown up most of her life in the Southwest, Rachel was very excited to be recognized by this publication.

“I would encourage other young artists to apply for competitions that they might not feel qualified for. I’ve experienced a myriad of rejections in my short career as an artist and wasn’t sure I would be accepted by Southwest Art, but the potential success is well worth the discomfort of putting yourself out there,” Christensen said. 

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