This Artist’s Candid Paintings Take a Step into the Aesthetic Future In an age where creative boundaries are becoming ever more fluid, digital painting from artists like 21-year-old Texas-based Alexis Franklin is constantly breaking new creative ground. Inspired by the the world of art opened up to her upon downloading Instagram for the first time, Alexis uses a combination of Photoshop and Procreate to create these meticulous digital paintings, using some of her favourite photos as reference. The inspiring and candid personalities of the subjects are allowed to shine through an unobtrusive and deft artistic style, delivered in sun-blushed pastels. “It is a hybrid,” Alexis says of digital painting, “and I suppose that’s what makes it unique.” Alexis has always been a drawer and a doodler, inheriting it from a talented grandfather and an equally gifted mother, who would illustrate cut-out-and-keep figures for Alexis as a child. She currently freelances alongside working as a videographer for her local church. Each image takes 4-6 hours, and you can check out her process through a comprehensive series of time-lapses on her YouTube channel; her brushes are available for download online. Alexis’ digital portraiture proves that technological progress doesn’t have to overwrite tradition. Sometimes, it’ll just give it a fine-tune. THE PLUS: You’re building up a good number of studies now; has your approach varied over time? Alexis Franklin: I don’t ever think I’m good enough, which is common for artists. So, I change my approach a lot. Doing this, I’ve discovered, has been a key component in rapid growth for me. TP: What sort of things have influenced your work so far? AF: If I had to name two things that inspire me, they would be oil paintings and the mundanity of life. I love the texture that oil paintings give, and in terms of subject matter, I can fall in love with something as simple as someone holding a glass of milk. TP: Your style is very recognisable – slightly roughened, washed out colours, the result is powerful. How did this develop? AF: I think I’m slowly starting to settle into that, and I think it developed from my discovery of how much I loved oil paintings. When I view a traditional painting, I’m not only appreciating it as a whole, but I’m also picking apart the texture, in my head. I look at it and ask myself, “Why can’t that be achieved digitally? TP: How do you feel about the popularity your work has had online? AF: It’s funny, because I didn’t mean to be so heavily involved with the online art community. The community itself kind of dragged me in to it. It’s as if they’re the ones pushing me through these rings that have ultimately lead to my presence in the online art community. TP: What’s it like to experience this kind of online success? AF: Though I’m very thankful for it, it’s kind of funny, because sixteen-year-old me had not set out to accomplish any of this at all. I was just glad I finally owned an iPhone. TP: What do you find most challenging about your work? AF: I can’t just be comfortable with something. Once I get comfortable, I think about it too much, and my brain goes: “There’s a better way to do this. Figure it out.” I give myself constant eye rolls, and I so badly want to say “But it’s good! Why can’t I just keep it this way? This is fine!” but I know I can’t. TP: How do you get over that? AF: On the next piece, I’ll try something completely different that isn’t as comfortable; I discover that I grow a lot that way. TP: And what do you find most rewarding? AF: I have a folder on my computer where I keep all of my studies, and as cliché as it might be, what I find most rewarding is simply sitting back and seeing all that I’ve produced over the years. TP: You work on the intersection of digital and traditional techniques – where are you going to take this in future? AF: When I actually find the time to sit down and take a swing at traditional oil painting, I feel like that will drastically change how I paint digitally, because I’ll have an even better understanding of how the paint moves on the surface.