Contemporary oil portraits -
Amanda Jones, “Strung,” 2019, oil, 12 x 16 in.

Organized by Big Medium, a nonprofit organization dedicated to championing and cultivating artists and the contemporary arts in Austin and across Texas, the West Austin Studio Tour (WEST) is free and self-guided, and takes place this weekend (May 18–19, 2019). WEST provides opportunities for the public to meet the artists of Austin in their creative spaces.

“Through our programs and partnerships, we are working to foster the arts and facilitate an inclusive cultural dialogue between artists and their communities,” says the organization. “The mission of WEST is to provide an inclusive and accessible platform for a diverse group of artists to create, exhibit, and discuss their work, to increase the audience that experiences the artists’ work, and for that experience to create conversation and build relationships around art and the creative practice. WEST isn’t a craft fair or a street festival, and while sales are an important aspect of any artist’s career, they are not our primary focus. We believe an interconnected art community that supports each other will produce more impactful and sustainable benefits for everyone involved.”

Some of the participating artists this year include:

Amanda Jones: I’m a realist oil painter who enjoys creating highly rendered figurative works as much as I do painterly plein air studies. My current work explores themes of mortality, vulnerability, fear, disappointment, loss, loneliness, and hope. In addition to painting, I teach realist art to children ages 8–18 in my studio, and some of their work will also be on display.

Phillip Wade: “Lately I’ve returned to my roots, painting the books I read as a child — Paddington, The Owl and the Pussycat — besides my portrait paintings. When young, I moved back and forth from North Jersey to family in Cornwall, England, and loved painting there. And I loved the blinding light of Texas when I came here after studying at the Pennsylvania Academy.”

Phillip Wade, “Curious Grackle,” 2018, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 24 in.

Garima Sharma Heath: “I love creating beautiful, soulful art: delicate watercolors, romantic realistic paintings with vibrant colors, and meticulous architectural precision. My paintings and drawings emanate emotions and feelings. I speak three languages, am the product of three cultures—French, Indian, American. I have two degrees in architecture, worked as an architect, and I am still getting back to my art.”

Contemporary acrylic portraits -
Garima Sharma Heath: “The Three Coolies,” 2017, acrylic on canvas, 18 x 24 in.

Ryan Runcie: Runcie creates acrylic paintings that incorporate psychology and intrigue. Although he is a first-generation American, Runcie’s Jamaican heritage shows through in his use of vivid and saturated colors in his dynamic figurative work. He uses color to breathe humanity into his subjects that are dignified, vulnerable, and alluring. His work explores the grounds for social reconciliation and a healthy coexistence.

Contemporary acrylic portraits -
Ryan Runcie, “The Answer Is Out There,” 2017, acrylic, 48 x 48 in.

Roni Zulu: “My oil paintings capture a real or fictional person’s seen and obscured world. I enjoy the juxtaposition of bodies, alchemic symbols, numerology, equations, glyphs, and specified sacred objects layered into a lush romantic storytelling setting. My work is a mirror of who we are — to celebrate and be fascinated with ourselves and the world we live in.”

Contemporary oil portraits -
Roni Zulu, “The Attentive Ear,” 2017, oil on canvas, 38 x 25 in.

To learn more about the 2019 West Austin Studio Tour, please visit

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