Interview | Felice House | Portraits of Austin Artists
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.