Rachel Perrin is an Australian-based portrait artist. Rachel has established her own distinctive contemporary style of modern portraiture using a unique 17th century technique Pyrogravure practiced by a number of cultures including the Egyptians, and some African tribes, since the dawn of recorded history. Rachel delicately uses specialized modern pyrography tools heated to burn onto wood, then applies mixed media of charcoal, ink, and oil paint finishing with natural scented wax. Rachel not only captures the visual of her subject, but also the essence and the character of the individual. An extensive background in the fashion industry has given her a keen eye and edge on capturing the feature and form of the body giving her paintings an almost three-dimensional disposition. With a solo exhibition last year at Off the Kerb Gallery, and a number of group exhibitions around Melbourne, Australia, Rachel is fast becoming a rising talent and one to watch.
How did you make the decision to pursue art? I’m not sure I did make a decision; it’s just what I do – like all the time unless someone stops me.
What influenced and inspired you to create the work and technique you do? It’s always been people and faces for me; I’m an observer and am not afraid to feel. Mediums and materials have changed over time but coming from a family of tradespeople, I’ve always loved wood. A classmate from art school suggested pyrography which I found textural, expressive, and challenging in the most satisfying way – the burning plus oil paint, ink or conte is my happiness at the moment.
Portraiture is quite an intimate setting between sitter and artist, describe to us your process: I make drawings from life a lot, but I photograph my sitters and use those images to paint from. Photography is a medium I understand and after 14 years in fashion, I’ve not doubt that my own experience in front of the camera is the reason I feel such empathy observing my sitters through the lens. Cameras can create barriers but they can also disarm and it’s those in between moments, the honest moments, I aim to capture.
You have painted many commission portraits – tell us one of your favorites, and why? Commissions are interesting. I put a lot of pressure on myself, but when a former art teacher and great artist herself asked me to paint her children that was pretty special… and scary!
What classical and/or contemporary artists have inspired or influenced you? Before I knew anything about anything, it was Gustav Klimt for me – so beautiful. Now there are many artists I love like Jonathan Yeo, @rarebitultra, and @dsegrove. Find them on Instagram.
RACHEL PERRIN’S CHECKLIST:
WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT IN YOUR STUDIO? My new easel that Jeff built. Easels Galore, amazing!
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR DREAM CREATIVE COLLABORATIVE ENDEAVOR? I’ve been thinking about painting walls, something HUGE. It would be nice to attach myself to Jason Parker, Adnate or Rone for a bit.
WHOSE PORTRAIT ALIVE/DEAD WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO PAINT? David Bowie and James Bay.
IF YOU WERE TO DANCE LIKE NOBODY IS WATCHING, WHAT WOULD BE THE SONG OF CHOICE? Do it all the time, but I pretend I can sing like Florence and the Machine.
NAME YOUR POISON: Gin & Tonic
FAVORITE STUDIO SNACK: A cup of tea, but I always reward myself when I’ve finished a work I like with a lemon meringue cupcake.
PROUDEST MOMENT: Winning my first portrait prize.
BEST ADVICE: Do what you want.
Australian abstract artist Boe Sapun is the founder and curator of Ecume Gallery. The Melbourne-based gallery represents both local, international, established, and emerging contemporary art.
The idea of having great art accessible to a broad audience prompted the online gallery showcasing her own work, as well as a diverse range and ever-growing list of talented contributing artists.
Boe‘s passion is in discovering creative minds and understanding the finer nuances of their character which influence their process, inspiration, and art. Follow Boe Sapun and Écume Gallery on Instagram and Facebook.