The women emerge from the mist, intertwined with flowers, and glide through the wind. These enchanting women are the subjects of the newest paintings from Oxford-based figurative artist Stan O’Dell. In his show Les Femmes Enchanteur, opening Oct. 4 at Southside Gallery in Oxford, O’Dell celebrates the beauty, grace and mystery of women.
O’Dell is well known for his paintings of women in intriguing settings, but these newest paintings depict women more secretive and mystifying than ever before. “Women can convey endless varieties of moods and emotions through a look, a gesture or a posture,” O’Dell said. “When I paint, I am attempting to capture the mystery and intrigue of the woman, and let the viewer imagine the story behind the setting.”
O’Dell specializes in painting and drawing the human figure, usually from live models. His aim is not to create an exact portrait of the person, but rather to capture an essence of the mood, gazes and gestures. He then imbues the scene with imaginative and mystical auras. Viewers often comment that it seems as if O’Dell’s paintings gaze into the soul and emotions of the women.
There’s a good reason. For 25 years, he was a psychologist. O’Dell walked away from that career to follow his college dream of becoming an artist. O’Dell earned an undergraduate degree in psychology with a minor in studio art from Drury College in Springfield, Mo. His Ph.D. in clinical psychology came from Nova University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
In 1975, O’Dell began teaching psychology at the University of Mississippi. He became nationally known as an expert on parenting and later earned the highest certification in psychology, a diplomate. He retired from being a professor in 2001.
“Some people might call what I did a mid-life crisis,” O’Dell said. “I prefer to think of it as a mid-life course correction. But it turned out that combining art and psychology gave me some unique perspectives because people are endlessly fascinating, both psychologically and artistically.”
This is O’Dell’s fourth show at Southside. Since his last show in 2007, Southside director Wil Cook has been eager to have him return.
“O’Dell’s work is exemplary, paying homage to the traditional masters of the figure, while bringing an original and refreshing style,” Cook said. “His newest paintings are the richest and most complex yet. Each time I see Stan’s work, I admire his ability to explore new territory and grow as an artist.”
Jere Allen, a local artist known for his expressionistic figure painting and now a retired art professor, taught O’Dell. “Stan has been one of the most dedicated people to learning drawing as anybody I’ve ever had,” Allen said. “I’ve never seen anybody more persistent. One of the hardest things in the world to do is make something (a painting) feel like it is alive. Stan’s drawings have that quality and I find it rare.”
Southside’s opening reception for O’Dell’s show will be Oct. 13 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The show will be available until Oct. 29. �
O’Dell’s work can be seen at http://www.odellart.com/.
For information on Southside Gallery, located on the Square, call 662-234-9090 or visit http://www.southsideartgallery.com/.