NEW YORK—Patricia Watwood and two other artists came together in June at the Forbes Galleries, where she held an exhibition to espouse the virtues of contemporary classical realist art while searching for clarity about the oft-misunderstood field.

“Our work is not usually ironic, overly self-reflective, morbid, or nihilistic,“ she explained. “It’s based in traditional methods, it embraces beauty as an emotional and rhetorical language, it uses naturalistic representation, and it is built on the twin cores of Western art—nature and design.”

Many portraits are featured in Watwood’s exhibition, including her daughter, lost in a Harry Potter novel while waiting for dinner; a female Middle Eastern neighbor, depicting how all cultures are human; and two self-portraits, one done while she was pregnant.

The figures provoke contemplation and evoke sensitivity. A fair number are nudes, painted in a similar fashion to what one might see at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., circa the 13th and 14th centuries.

Her highest aspiration is to create artworks that bring a magical and spiritual energy to the viewer.

She said that she and the two other artists “haven’t seen any need to overthrow traditional forms.” “These traditional forms continue to work exactly, perfectly well, to wrestle with this idea about what does it mean to be human, how do we address that in art—that’s what we’re interested in,” she added.

People may have a perception of realism that it is just looking and painting. The process is “actually a complete transformation of looking, thinking, meditating, creating,” Watwood said.

She then read a quote from Sabin Howard’s and her former teacher: “I try to make art which reaffirms to the viewer that there is a value in human life. It should fire the sense that one is not alone, and that one is part of a group with similar needs, longing, hopes, dreams, fears, desires, which transcend time…

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Featured Image: Watwood’s daughter Sophia, lost in her favorite book, waits for dinner.  (Courtesy of Patricia Watwood)

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