June Hankins is a contempory realist painter in oil, living and working in Chicago. Formerly an apparel designer, she began studing classical drawing and painting at the School of Representational Art in Chicago. The school closed. She continues her study with the head instructor of the former school, the gifted master painter Grigor Eftimov and also studies intensive short courses in Florence, Italy.
Her practice is to work from life models, sometimes dressed in elaborate costumes. To capture the vitality of her animal figures, she sketches drawings with an eye to catch the unique personality of their spirit before begining to paint. Choosing such labor intensive practices deliberately places her work in the footsteps of The Old Masters and the collective memory of the tradition of Western academic realisim.
Although her work references the stark backgrounds and well-lit figures of classicists like Velasquez and Caravaggio, Hankins also draws opon the 19th century philosophy of symbolism, a derivatiom from romanticism and the pre-Raphaelites that draws upon naturalism to capyure images beyond the physical realm of the senses and in the world of dreams, spiritualism and imagination. She derives her concepts from the brightly costumed world of the circus, frequently referencing the psychological bond between trainer and wild animal. Her figures in relationship to one another are fraught with simultaneously conflicting emotions: the longing for freedom tied down by the conventions of flesh and physical form.
“One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.”
Leonardo da Vinci