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Interview | Felice House | Portraits of Austin Artists

Interview | Felice House | Portraits of Austin Artists

Motivated by the desire to see images of women whom I can relate to, I began to paint my fellow Austin, Texas artists. After spending months and years with these women I am familiar with their personalities, their likes and their dislikes. This familiarity allowed my intuitive process to function in an informed way.
— Felice House

What risks are you taking as an artist?

Unlike traditional portraiture which uses clothing and expression as visual symbols to convey the persona and social position of the sitter, my recent portrait series “All-I-Have Been-Seen-Done” uses landscape backgrounds convey the emotional condition of the sitter. For these portraits, I chose to focus my work on the head and shoulders of the woman in order to put the power center in the portrait rather than using the art to portray their sexuality. 

Where do you think this portrait is going to end up?

Great question, I really have no idea but it will be fun to find out. The piece is currently touring as part of the two-person exhibition, “Sum You Some Me”, that my husband, Dana Younger sculptor, and I created. The show debuted in Michigan in January of 2016, an expanded version exhibited at the Julia C. Butridge Gallery, in Austin, TX this past summer and it is now at Midland College’s gallery in West Texas.

How much of your work is dedicated to portraiture?

Before I started teaching at Texas A&M University in 2012, I made my living as a portrait painter. At that point I was doing 70% portraits. My teaching job has allowed me the flexibility to create figurative, narrative paintings that aren’t strictly portraits like my Re-Western series. At this point I am doing around 30% portraits.

What do you read?

I prefer fiction by women authors: Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Amy Tan and Barbara Kingsolver. I have a subscription to the New York Times; so I read that. But my guilty pleasure is reading novels about women sleuths. I just can’t resist a story where a clever woman finds the solution against all odds. One of my favorites is Alexander McCall Smith’s series “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency”.

What brought you to the path you are on?

My mom, Lynette House, is a representational painter. I grew up going to life drawing classes with her. For a while she had a studio in the attic of an old building at Amherst College that had a beautiful north skylight. Later we moved to Williamstown, MA, the home of the Clark Art Institute. At that point, she maintained a studio in our house. When I walked into my first painting class in college holding a box of my mom’s old paints I knew I had found my path. 

Are you currently being represented by a gallery?

I don’t have gallery representation. I feel very fortunate to sell work out of my own studio. 

Are you satisfied with your career in the arts?

Absolutely. I really can’t think of anything else I would rather do. 

What have you never been asked before about your artwork?

I feel like I am asked so many questions, it is hard to think of one that hasn’t been asked. 
Misha Sky, oil on canvas, 36” x 72”, 2016 Misha Blaise is a painter who just published and illustrated her first book, “This Phenomenal Life: The amazing ways we are connected with our universe”. Though whimsical illustrations, Misha leads her audience through complex cycles and mysterious processes of our universe revealing our deep interconnectedness and unity. Her prayerful, meditative spirit his portrayed through closed eyes in her portrait.

Misha Sky, oil on canvas, 36” x 72”, 2016

Misha Blaise is a painter who just published and illustrated her first book, “This Phenomenal Life: The amazing ways we are connected with our universe”. Though whimsical illustrations, Misha leads her audience through complex cycles and mysterious processes of our universe revealing our deep interconnectedness and unity. Her prayerful, meditative spirit his portrayed through closed eyes in her portrait.

Jieun Beth Forest, oil on canvas, 36” x 72”, 2016 Artist Jieun Beth, as her name indicates, is both Korean and American. The conflicting and competing colors and patterns in her portrait mirror her upbringing traveling between Korea and the United States. Her beauty attracts the viewer while the cool colors in the skin make the flesh is unsettling.

Jieun Beth Forest, oil on canvas, 36” x 72”, 2016

Artist Jieun Beth, as her name indicates, is both Korean and American. The conflicting and competing colors and patterns in her portrait mirror her upbringing traveling between Korea and the United States. Her beauty attracts the viewer while the cool colors in the skin make the flesh is unsettling.

Johnnie Snow, oil on canvas, 36” x 72”, 2016 Painter Johnnie Sielbeck and I paint together weekly at the studio of Jennifer Balkan. This portrait was created for the Painters Painting Painters exhibition at Davis Gallery in fall of 2016. Each artist was assigned in the exhibition was assigned to paint two other artists, as well as a self-portrait. In this painting Johnnie is the hero of a yet to be written movie.   

Johnnie Snow, oil on canvas, 36” x 72”, 2016

Painter Johnnie Sielbeck and I paint together weekly at the studio of Jennifer Balkan. This portrait was created for the Painters Painting Painters exhibition at Davis Gallery in fall of 2016. Each artist was assigned in the exhibition was assigned to paint two other artists, as well as a self-portrait. In this painting Johnnie is the hero of a yet to be written movie.   

As a figurative painter who specializes in feminist portraiture, Felice House strives to provide a counterpoint to the passive female representations found in art historical tradition and culture at large.  House exhibits in galleries and museums across the country and internationally. She received a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and an MFA in painting from the University of Texas. In addition, House spent time studying classical painting and portraiture at the Schuler School of Fine Art in Baltimore, MD. Felice House is an assistant professor in the Visualization Department at Texas A&M University.

As a figurative painter who specializes in feminist portraiture, Felice House strives to provide a counterpoint to the passive female representations found in art historical tradition and culture at large. 

House exhibits in galleries and museums across the country and internationally. She received a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and an MFA in painting from the University of Texas. In addition, House spent time studying classical painting and portraiture at the Schuler School of Fine Art in Baltimore, MD. Felice House is an assistant professor in the Visualization Department at Texas A&M University.


Look for Felice House's depiction of women taking over the iconic American Western roles in movies in Woman as Warrior at the Zhou B Art Center in Chicago this summer.

Poem | To Quell the Rancorous Squalls of March | Emily Ferrara

Poem | To Quell the Rancorous Squalls of March | Emily Ferrara

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Poem | Chickens Home To Roost | Peter Daniel Levin

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