"The Outwin 2016" Finalist: Thu Nguyen

Painting of a girl wearing a flowered dressed looking at the floor
The Valentine Dress / Thu Nguyen / 2014 / Collection of the Artist / © Thu Nguyen

Out of over 2,500 entries in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, 43 artists have their work shown in the exhibition “The Outwin 2016: American Portraiture Today.” Read more about one of the finalists, Thu Nguyen.

What about the sitter inspired you?

I always like painting my children since familiarity reduces the separation between sitter and painter.

How did the sitter inspire this specific portrait?

I am fascinated in how my young daughter is a blend of emerging maturity combined with lingering desire to still be a playful, care free child.

What made you decide to depict this sitter as you did?

I wanted to create a contrast between the sweetness of the valentine dress and the formal stiffness of her pose which leads to a subtle tension.

How did your work develop from idea to execution?

The sitters pose reminded me, for some reason, of medieval religious iconography. To heighten this iconography feel, I heightened the spot light effect on the figure as well as carefully rendering the tight details of her dress.

What relationship do the materials have to the meaning?

I used oil on panel to get a carefully rendered image like the European Renaissance icon paintings.

How does the piece fit within your larger body of work?

I have done many paintings of my two children, in all of them I also try not just capture a moment in time but to also express a little of their unique character. 

You can see Nguyen’s work in “The Outwin 2016: American Portraiture Today,” up now through Jan. 8, 2017. Also, be sure to vote in our People’s Choice Competition.