Like a natural woman

San Diego artist Rene Porter visits Reno to show her simple but sensual portraits

<i>Water’s Edge </i>by Rene Porter

Water’s Edge by Rene Porter

The gentle rise of the belly. The long, svelte line of the back. The breasts. The strappy heels. The makeup. The synthetic smile.

The female body gets an awful lot of attention. We love it. We love it so much that we color it in, whittle it down and make it over to super-size its marketability, to maximize its erotic value.

“When I go around and see figure art, it’s all men who are doing it,” artist Rene Porter says. “I feel that my little niche is to draw women from a woman’s point of view. Being a woman and having that connection to women is very inspiring.”

Seen from Porter’s eyes, women are soft, graceful, natural—not poured into tight clothes or perched on high heels. Instead, Porter’s female figures are dressed simply and placed in simple settings with natural light.

Porter, who grew up in Ohio and now lives in San Diego, will be showing her oil and charcoal works in Reno this weekend, both at Family Connections, a business inside A Rainbow Place, and at The Patio. A number of Porter’s works are sold through Family Connections—works that, according to Family Connections co-owner Shelly Brewster-Meredith, are quite popular. Brewster-Meredith says that she was drawn to Porter’s works because of their realism and the way that they convey emotion.

“The women are very realistic,” Brewster-Meredith says. “It just really touches you. You wonder, ‘What is it that’s going on in their minds?’ “

From the beginning of her artistic career, Porter loved to study character. She began drawing as a child but says that she was too self-conscious about her work to dedicate herself to art at the time. Yet even though she didn’t take her drawing seriously, Porter says that she always knew she would be an artist one day.

That day came when she was in a high school art class.

“I was assigned a portrait,” she says. “I brought in a newspaper photograph of a black guy, and it just started coming out. It just clicked. It was one of those instantaneous things.”

Porter says that portraiture became magical for her after that point. She became fascinated by the wrinkled, aging faces of men and women—faces that hold secrets. Today, Porter’s female figures have that same alluring quality.

“You know that there’s a story behind the picture, and your imagination takes off," Brewster-Meredith says. "Your imagination creates a story about them."