Haynes Galleries presents "Four Figurative Artists: Ellen Cooper, Renee Foulks, Lea Colie Wight and Ryan Brown."
August 3 to August 28. Reception: August 3, 6 to 8 p.m.

THOMASTON, Maine — Haynes Galleries is pleased to present Four Figurative Artists: Ryan Brown, Ellen Cooper, Renee Foulkes and Lea Colie Wight. The exhibit will run Aug. 3-28 at 91 Main St. in Thomaston. An opening reception will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 3. The event is free and open to the public.

Though the artists share a love for the figure, each brings a unique perspective and a compelling aesthetic to the genre. As a result, these four are among the finest and most exciting painters in contemporary American Realism.

Gallery founder Gary Haynes, who is committed to representing the freshest, brightest talent in contemporary American Realism, ranks these four figurative artists among the finest in the country.

“These four artists are dedicated to the revival of realist art in America,” Haynes says. “They are award-winning artists who are committed to teaching their philosophy and craft to a new generation of contemporary realists. And they are producing some of the most exciting work being done anywhere.”

Ellen Cooper has an international reputation for her masterful draftsmanship and ability to capture the character of her subjects. Her portraits, most notably Judy and Defiance of Erebus, reflect the personality and grit — the living truth — of her strong female subjects.

Cooper was formally trained at Tyler School of Art and Temple University, and later studied under contemporary masters Burton Silverman and Daniel Greene. Her work has received national and international acclaim, including a second-place finish and People’s Choice Award in the 2011 Portrait Society of America International Portrait Competition. Her award-winning painting Marmee’s Garden In the Snow was featured on the cover of Artist’s Magazine in 2011.

Lea Colie Wight paints extraordinary portraits of ordinary — often unexpected — subjects. In such paintings as Jenn and Waiting, Wight transforms everyday scenes into something almost sacred — a waiting room becomes a sanctuary; a chair in a studio becomes a throne.

Wight’s work has been featured in such publications as International Artist Magazine and American Art Collector. It also impressed her instructors at the Studio Incamminati School for Contemporary Realist Art — after studying there, she was invited to join the staff. She also has written and illustrated Classical Life Drawing Studio, Lessons and Teaching in the Art of Figure Drawing, an art instruction book published by The Art Student’s League of New York.

Renee Foulks’ work is sublimely rendered — skin so soft it begs to be touched; light so ethereal it seems otherworldly. Her paintings — some in vibrant color, others in greyscale — show a complete mastery of the craft. It’s no surprise that she’s received five prestigious Mellon Foundation grants since the 1980s.

Foulks trained at the Moore College of Art and Tyler School of Art at Temple University, and now teaches at the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts and University die Arts.

Ryan Brown’s process is almost as arresting as his portraits. He thinks deeply about his subjects and their surroundings — nothing is unintentional. This exacting attention to detail, coupled with a razor-sharp technique, give his figurative work a gravitas that evokes the masters of centuries ago.

Brown, a graduate of Brigham Young University, studied at the Florence Academy of Art in Italy. He has won numerous awards, scholarships and fellowships, including Best Painting of the Year at the Florence Academy of Art. He has since returned to his native Utah, where he has established the Center for Academic Study and Naturalist Painting, a school firmly rooted in the classical and naturalist ideals of the 19th century.

This exhibition, which complements Haynes Galleries’ inaugural solo show by Jesus Villarreal, is a rare opportunity for viewers to take in work by some of today’s most exciting figurative artists. Quite simply, it elevates the genre — through technical mastery, thoughtful painting and sheer creativity.