Interview with Raman Singh

Raman Singh is an artist living in the D.C area. He teaches full time and also sells his work professionally. We have conducted an interview with him about his oil paintings.

How unique are the kind of oil paintings that you create?
My work is unique in many ways because of both the range in subject matter as well as the techniques used to create the paintings. I have a varied array of work, but two areas I do focus on are portraiture and cityscapes. The portraits are created using classical methods of paintings by creating layers of oil paint with brushes. My portraits carry subtle but powerful facial expressions that reflect deep moments in the individual’s life. With the brush I am able to create many layers, which results in a refined and focused portrait falling on the lines of realism. The cityscapes are very expressive in a way that I primarily use a palette knife to paint the pieces. The palette knife gives a very unique look involving high energy strokes of paint and movement through textures. The texture is the focus in my cityscapes as I plop on unrestricted amounts of paint and move it around with the knife. Instead of building layers over many sessions to achieve an effect, there are times with the knife I apply the correct value and color directly to canvas as I see fit. The cityscapes aren’t super refined like the portraits but the missing gaps in detail are filled with the viewer’s imagination.

How do you determine which subject matter in each particular piece of your art?
I feel that the subject matter I choose has to have some sort of deep meaning or story behind it. Most of my portraits are of people that have had some sort of impact on my life, whether it be my family, friends, or just individuals I’ve encountered. I want to think about how I see those individuals and portray that feeling about them on canvas. Those feelings are usually deep introspective and reflective moments, almost as if you’ve just witnessed the moment frozen in time. All the subject matter is either created from life or from the photos I’ve taken myself. The cityscapes chosen are usually due to a deep perspective, I would like to focus on depth in them so that the foreground can have thick applications of paint with a palette knife while the atmosphere looms over with soft edges.

Where do you teach full time?
I currently teach private lessons to high school and college students as well as teach art full time in an elementary school in Lorton, Virginia, U.S.

Why are people you have met on your travels inspiring? How do you remember them when you paint them?
People I’ve met along my travels are important for many reasons. When I’m traveling, I am in a space of exploration and out of my comfort zone so there are already so many different sensory experiences that help memories stand out. On top of those memories, when I meet someone that has an impact on those experiences, it compels me to recreate that moment and capture their story on canvas. For example, this starving woman in India was in the middle of a busy tourist attractions barely alive. I gave her some food, but that moment stuck with me, the way she had nothing left but still a will to live. I like to think I am documenting not only my own life, but also history of culture, the era, and ultimately the raw unfiltered human condition of these times.

Where do you promote your work professionally?
I have just built a website from scratch and am working on using it as base to promote my work in other places. I use the internet and am focusing on building a following on Instagram, due to its simple image interface. After my website is complete, I will use it to reach out and apply those images and stories to other social media.

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