Tess Gray’s Oil Paintings Blend the Real with the Surreal

Tess Gray’s paintings offer some insight on the multitude of human experiences — from the mysterious and fantastic to the insufferably banal (and most often than not, where those extremities collide). Born in South Wales and currently based in Cardiff, Gray’s artistic observations rely on studies from life, automatic sketching, and found images. Those form the basis of her work.

“I would say my practice is project-based,” she shared with Jackson’s Art, “but honestly, I tend to ascribe to the ‘I’ll paint what I want, when I want’ attitude. If a subject captivates me, or I think of a composition, I’ll go with it.”

According to Gray, her sources of inspiration are vast, with primary influences including her environment, landscapes, and life experiences. But while her subjects and influences vary, her tools tend to be relatively simple. Sticking to oil paint, her toolbox includes brushes, palette knives, and a field easel.

“I’m of the opinion that painting and drawing are fundamentally the same thing,” says Gray. “Oil paint is the material I sketch with most naturally for landscapes, but for figures I favor dry media. After working in acrylic as a teenager, I switched to oil. The vibrancy of the colors in oil and the texture was inimitable and I never went back. I just discovered an affinity with it and find it so versatile.”

Follow her Instagram page for more.