UK artist Mary Jane Ansell has been a finalist in the prestigious National Portrait Gallery BP Portrait Award in 2004, 2009 and 2010 (see my post on the 2011 BP Portrait Award).
Her portraits and other figurative paintings are elegant and highly refined, both in their paint handling and in her use of light to reveal form and texture. They can also feel intimate and, when she has her models engage the viewer directly, as she often does, they can be subtly piercing.
Most of her subjects are young women, though her formal portrait commissions are sometimes of men and she occasionally takes on still life subjects.
In all of her work she has a keen ability to use light and subtle color to focus your eye exactly where she want it and carry you through the composition in a very deliberate manner.
Many of her paintings have an narrative undercurrent, hinting at a story behind the moment.
Ansell’s website offers galleries of her work both current and from previous years, as well as a small selection of etchings. Though there is some discussion of her procedure for commissioned portraits, there is little information about her approach as a painter, save that she works in oil on panels.