Originally from Scotland, Katie O’Hagan moved to the U.S. after receiving a degree in silversmithing at Edinburgh College of Art.
It was almost 10 years later that she began working in oils. She is now known for her incisive portraits, many of which are set in unusual compositions or settings, and some of which have a narrative element.
She has also done a series of “portrait groupings”, in which she portrays several individuals, usually members of a family, in stylistically related individual paintings rather than a more traditional group composition (images above, bottom three).
I was particularly struck by her impressive use of low-light, or overcast day illumination in portraiture. This is very evident in her portrait of her oldest daughter (above, top with detail), set at twilight in Death Valley. The soft value contrasts in the modeling of the face are handled in a way that accentuates the dimensionality and physical presence of her subject rather than diminishing them.
There is an interview with the artist on The Artist’s Network.
O’Hagan received a Portrait Society of America Certificate of Excellence in 2012.