The work in Figurative Realms seems to breathe the artists’ passion for creating art, and pulse with their desire to share the excitement of the creative process with their viewers. Appealingly organic yet precisely balanced and drawing on the artists’ skill and inspiration, these works possess a compelling ability to attract and hold the attention.

Shawn Belanger

Shawn Belanger’s vivid ink marker artwork combines intricate lines with bold, blunt bursts of color. Belanger draws scenes alive with players and complex scenery. His eye ranges from a lounge crowded with jazz musicians to a field of workers harvesting crops to a single horseback rider, alone with his animal and a lush background of greenery. Every work, no matter how divergent the subject matter, contains Belanger’s characteristically innovative patternwork and sophisticated color palette. Belanger lives with autism and has limited speech, but his artwork reveals an electric, observant, and multifaceted perspective on the world. His images feature flattened planes that do not simplify the realistic image, but rather augment it, bringing out its full complexity. Colors are saturated to create an atmosphere heightened in emotion and kinetic energy. The line, created in stark black Sharpie, weaves throughout each work to unite all parts. Belanger’s work both plays with and celebrates the beauty of life and the natural world.

Shawn Belanger lives in his hometown of Calgary, Alberta. He is a self-taught artist.

Monique B.

Within the depths of Monique B.’s emotive and atmospheric paintings one discovers a passionately fiery and energetic force surging to the surface. As she paints, Monique infuses herself into her creations, allowing her inner thoughts and emotions to permeate the layers of pigment. She brings to life works of intense drama and power, exposing a poignant vision of her soul’s journey in paint. Inspired by the artist’s time in New York City, these paintings are often evocative of cityscapes, whether realistically captured or pure abstractions hinting at the upward force and energy of skyscrapers clustered along the coast. Monique builds her works in acrylic paint on canvas, moving between a highly textured and expressive mark and a softer and more considered atmospheric brushstroke.

Born in Germany to a German mother and French father, and brought up in France, Monique was raised bilingually and was encouraged to express her creative spirit from an early age, by participating in competitions and by mimicking her grandfather's paintings. Self-taught as an artist, her works now appear in exhibitions and collections throughout Europe, including permanent exhibitions in France.

Sherwin Paul Gonzales

Filipino artist Sherwin Paul Gonzales calls his style of painting “tereptepism.” Tereptep is a word in his native dialect for the ripples made on the surface of water. Like many ripples intersecting, Gonzales’ work is a confluence of numerous influences: his multiethnic background, growing up under martial law in the Philippines, his classical art training and his interest in philosophy and science. Today tereptepism, which Gonzales started with his brother and two other artists, has over 3,000 practitioners worldwide.

Many of Gonzales’ pieces contain hidden political messages. Clowns, for example, are allegories for Philippine politics, and a still life might represent the labor of poor workers. Even colors in Gonzales’ work are metaphorical: he often uses the color red because it’s favored by Mexican, Spanish, Chinese and Ilongot cultures, all of which make up Gonzales’ multiethnic background. Gonzales is also interested in how light and color can influence psychology and uses this to inform the color choices in his work. Like the man himself, Gonzales’ paintings are layered with depth and meaning.

Steven R. Hill

The powerful and dynamic landscape paintings of American artist Steven R. Hill combine representational subjects with abstract possibilities. Working in pastel on paper, Hill uses this creative approach to capture the immediacy of the moment, no matter the subject. Within each painting, he pushes the limits of color and light, transforming recognizable subjects into so much more. Here, the viewer is invited to find new meanings in common forms and to see the greater depth and beauty of our world.

Primarily, Hill works in plein air, which allows him to capture “the more elusive moment in time, mood, feel, or essence of any given subject.” In part, these paintings are inspired by the artist’s background of formal training in music, which has become interwoven into his work. As he explains, “Musical harmony, tempo, and interpretive themes are not unlike the mechanical relationships I use to explore concepts, visual form, and structure as a painter.” By merging these two worlds, Hill is able to take his paintings to an entirely new and thrilling level.

Steven R. Hill's artwork was recently published in “Best of Worldwide Artists in Drawing, Pastel and Charcoal” by Kennedy Publications. "Harbor in Evening” painted en plein air in Lumbarda, Croatia, is one of three images of his work selected for this book.

Sylva Kanderal

Czech-born Sylva Kanderal, now residing in Zurich, received her early inspiration from a painter friend, and from studying under Aimé Venel, G. Gschwendtner, VOKA, and B. Klimmer. She eventually discovered and pursued her own individual style by “following my feelings and fantasy, and freeing my soul,” as she explains. Her abstract-figurative oils on canvas, infused with surreal components in delicate colors, seem partially schematic. Each work is at once inspirational and revelatory, uniting the artist’s expression of fantasy with deeper insights into the subject portrayed.

As people increasingly become the focus of her work, she seeks to harmonize colors, shapes and the different techniques into a presentation that is emotionally stirring and evocative. Drawing on photos of women as loose templates, Kanderal improvises, edits and brings life to her subjects in elegant relief. Each work suggests a passionate use of smooth oil colors, often employing Alla-prima in conjunction with various techniques which are intended to allow the painting to tell its own story. In each work, one clearly sees that Kanderal follows a distinctly personal set of rules that reflect her thoughts, feelings and personality.

Nick Kontostavlakis

The photographs of Greek artist Nick Kontostavlakis are deeply saturated, dreamlike and highly detailed. Although taken on Kontostavlakis’ worldwide travels, the artist says that his photographs are not meant to represent reality or specific locales. Instead, they depict his own subjective feelings about nature, its wildness and unpredictability, and the mystery and psychic emanations of places and peoples.

Kontostavlakis works with a digital single-lens reflex camera and tends to shoot with a wide-angle lens, giving his pictures a dramatic and striking effect, reflecting a powerfully cinematic atmosphere in each picture. His careful compositions and fascination with searching for precisely the right frame for each image means that further work in the studio does not touch the core picture. In each one, the artist tells a very specific story. The fact that his stories are non-narrative doesn't lessen the compelling and intriguing character of the works’ visual style. Kontostavlakis says he wants his art to express his innermost feelings and stimulate other people - and certainly he achieves this last with enviable effortlessness.

Jules Miller

Jules Miller’s limited edition digital photographs truly vibrate with luscious textures and glowing hues. Capturing images from nature and architecture, the artist's background in painting influences the free-flowing and abstract quality of her photographic compositions. Currently working in an inverted format, Miller reverses hues during post-production to reveal inner dynamics and wrestle out provocative color combinations. Flowers, grass and everyday objects come to take on otherworldy characteristics. Particularly interested in up-close, “macro” style shooting, her subjects are typically set against clean, solid color backgrounds and gleam with neon incandescence. Having come from a more traditional fine arts background and worked with an array of media including acrylic and pastel, Miller’s current work at the borders of photo-realism and abstraction is influenced by legendary innovators such as Rothko, de Kooning and Pollock.

Jules Miller was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and currently lives and works in Delray Beach, Florida. She has exhibited at the Museum of Art Ft. Lauderdale and extensively throughout Florida’s Broward and Palm Beach counties. Her work is included in numerous private collections.

Lyudmila Ozerovsky

Ukrainian-American painter Lyudmila Ozerovsky is new on the art scene, having only begun to paint in March 2013. Yet the flowers she creates are both compelling and timeless, representing the beauty, importance, and miracle of self. Lyudmila’s paintings are rife with meaning, symbolizing both the strength and potential of the self and the decisions, circumstances, and people that ultimately come to shape an individual life. Colors are bold and joyful, highlighted by a strong use of line and elegant forms. Complementary backgrounds help to create a sense of harmony and balance in the overall composition, contributing to the strong emotionality infused in each piece.

Lyudmila explains the intention behind her paintings in simple but moving terms: “We are all unique flowers surrounded by events in our lives, where some seem more difficult than others. We can choose which shades we let be close to ourselves, our beings: the dark or the light, the bright or the soft.” It is Lyudmila’s greatest wish that her paintings inspire the viewer to find the hope, color, life, and beauty in the darkest places in their lives.

Nathan Plung

Using the timeless and celebrated craft of cross-stitch, American artist Nathan Plung creates majestic and masterful works of art. Beginning his tableaux from drawings, Plung then stitches his creations in vibrant, electric colors that transform thread and canvas into intoxicatingly arresting portraits. Intensely animated with a pulsating energy, these compositions harmonize representation with abstraction, meticulousness with passion. Each composition is a poignant portrait of the personality of the person depicted in it, and each is a testament to the artist's profound commitment to exploring the medium of cross-stitch. Born with cerebral palsy, Plung began cross-stitching to improve his fine motor skills, but his practice evolved from being purely therapeutic to becoming innately innovative and artistic. “Once I had mastered the basic mechanics of the craft, I realized that — unlike every example of cross-stitch I had ever seen — there was opportunity for individualized artistic expression,” Plung explains. Indeed, the resulting works deftly unite the beauty of precision with the poetry of artistry.

Born in Idaho, Nathan Plung has lived and exhibited his work in England and the United States.

Marie-Luise Quandt

Marie-Luise Quandt paints realistic still lifes using oils on canvas. Typically, she creates soothing backdrops of neutral white and off-white tones, and then gives her subjects accents of red and bright color to draw interest. Quandt is particularly interested in realistically portraying shapes and textures. “During the course of the last thirty-five years my painting has developed more and more in the direction of photorealism,” she explains. “If the beholder thinks he can peel the old paint from the door with his fingernail or if he tries to open it, then I am pleased.” Quandt is obsessed with the details in her work – the fine textures of thread, or the particular way light reflects from cherries, or the transparency of certain fabrics. Her passion is infectious, and the viewer is swept up into a world where beauty exists even in the little things.

Quandt lives and works in Germany. She has been running a painting school for several years, and is always excited to pass on her knowledge to others.

Elisabeth Radomsky

Maryland artist Elisabeth Radomsky paints classical and romantic landscapes inspired by the work of artists like John Singer Sargent, Claude Monet and Michelangelo, to name just a few. Radomsky says she seeks to “take the personal and render it universal. To be able to take my subject matter and portray the soulful, the enchanting element — it's magic!”

Radomsky started her artistic career as a young photographer, and today her artistic process still begins with a camera. She takes photographs of scenes that capture her attention and which move her emotionally. With the camera, she composes the picture using light, time of day, shadows and cropping to create an image she believes will share with her viewers that “Ahh” moment she initially encountered. Once the basics of the composition are laid out, Radomsky elevates her photographs to the level of art by using them as the basis of an oil painting, giclee painting, or watercolor and pastel piece. The result is an oeuvre of work that has earned Radomsky the titles Master Photographer, Master Craftsman and Artist and has led to her owning a successful Portrait and Fine Art Studio in Baltimore.

David Rosenthal

Deeply inspired by the natural world, American artist David Rosenthal endeavors to reveal and express the magnificent beauty of the environment. Traveling the world to experience the earth’s natural wonders, Rosenthal makes detailed pencil sketches of his subjects, carefully portraying appearance as much as his impressions. Then, back in his studio, he translates these observations into oil paintings that describe the wonder of nature as well as the human eye’s capacity to examine it. The artist never works from photos. “The creation of an image in our minds is a very active process, with our visual system taking many views from different angles as well as different points in time and space, to give us a view of the world that is richer, more complex and meaningful than photos,” Rosenthal explains. With a palette rich in natural tones, he captures the true splendor of nature, and animates it with the poetry of his reminiscences. Light and darkness is captured with a sensitive nuance, as these paintings convey an alluring atmosphere of majesty and memory.

Rosenthal lives and works in Alaska.

Yves Siegrist

Yves Siegrist’s thought-provoking nature photography is delicate in depiction and bold in concept. Siegrist’s work is highly textured, often monochromatic, and swings between extreme close-up and breathtaking bird’s eye views. He often searches for what he calls “light moments,” or the characteristics of one natural element in another. His camera zooms in to capture the fluidity of the contours in a rock, and pans out to show how a cloud of mist over the horizon can appear solid. Each work contains a note of surprise. Siegrist’s photography has much in common with “found object’ sculpture. He uses only natural light and devises compositions based on his subject as it is, rather than as he has rearranged it. He also emphasizes overlooked things – the wave pattern in stalks of grass, a remote stretch of forest – which speak to the concept of being cast-off and reborn.

Siegrist was born in Kanton Aargau, Switzerland and today lives just south of there in Seengen. He is an architect by profession, and takes his own documentary photographs of his office’s constructions.

Varda Yoran

Israeli-American artist Varda Yoran creates dynamic, emotive sculptures that explore the simultaneous simplicity and complexity of the realms of emotive expression and physical movement. A hallmark of Yoran’s sculpture is her definitive use of shape, whether demarcated by sharp edges, smooth surfaces, gentle curves, or undulating lines. Working in an array of materials, including stone, wood, Plexiglas, wax, and bronze, Yoran stays away from superfluous detail and rather focuses on capturing and elucidating the feeling and power contained within each three-dimensional composition.

Most of Yoran’s work is concerned with exploring the universality of emotions and how this comes to intersect with and be expressed by the fluidity of physical bodies in motion. In addition, her sculpture has been influenced by her diverse cultural background, since she has lived in places as varied as China, Israel, the UK and the U.S. Overall, this art is meant to tell a story and to provide insight into what it is to be human in these modern times. As Yoran explains, “To me, art is a language, non-verbal communication. My voice is sculpture.”

Arlette Zurbuchen

Drawing inspiration from her work in the theater and theater productions with refugees, Arlette Zurbuchen’s paintings are filled with the essence of humanity. Within the emotional weight of their political and social themes, Zurbuchen’s creations bridge cultural divides, portraying a dramatic vision of the universal behavior and motives of mankind. As she discovers beauty even in turmoil, Zurbuchen’s poignant figural works are loaded with a visual tension as inner dialogs and conflicts linger beneath her brightly animated surfaces. The artist creates her works in acrylic paints on canvas, allowing the bold colors and lines of her pigments to remain clear within the skillful softness of her brushstrokes in both silhouetted and realistically rendered forms.

Born in Bern, Switzerland, where she still lives and works in a nearby country cottage, Arlette Zurbuchen studied at the School of Art and College of Education in Bern before working as a scene painter in the city theater, where she also learned theater directing. In recent years she has focused on her artistic career through solo and group exhibitions while working as a theater director in Switzerland’s independent scene and teaching theater in elementary schools.