In watercolors of beautiful, confident women, fashion plays a central role. Kelly Beeman, an accidental fashion illustrator, has compiled a dazzling portfolio of elegant women in alluring and stylish outfits that add character, context, and complexity to simply composed subjects. Her portraits of solitary figures are simple and powerful, but Beeman's characters become even more communicative in her Sister Series, an ongoing series of group portraits inspired by Beeman's own siblings. Portrayed together, family-photo style, the women stare at the viewer with eerie interest. The presence of other women imbues them with a liveliness that Beeman's solo portraits sometimes lack.
Beeman's characters come alive through fashion. From a dress or scarf, the viewer extrapolates a character. "There is always a narrative happening within my work," Beeman tells Creators. That narrative often revolves around "the strong relationship between clothing, memory, and experience." But with her Sister Series, strong relationships between women becomes the most compelling aspect of Beeman's portraits.
"I do not like imagery where women look weightless, delicate, sad, childlike," Beeman says. As a result, her subjects appear poised and confident, almost aggressive. Their intense gaze is arresting. In one painting, two sisters stare into a mirror, while their reflections gaze at the viewer, capturing both the strength of their gaze and the strange superficiality of fashion.
Beeman has worked with several fashion designers and labels, from Elie Saab to J.W Anderson, and scrolling through her alluring paintings, whose glamour resembles an Instragram feed, you start to wonder whether the cold stares of the women in the paintings communicate their own complicated relationships with fashion and performance.