Paintings of musicians
JACOB DHEIN (b. 1978), Classical Musician #3, 2020, oil on panel, 39 x 39 in., collection of the artist

There is a lot of superb contemporary realism being made these days; this article by Allison Malafronte shines light on a gifted individual.

The artist JACOB DHEIN (b. 1978) paints a variety of subjects — city streets slick with rain, performing artists in dynamic motion, nudes, portraits — in such a manner that it seems as if the image is comprised of both paint and megapixels. In some images, the duality between digital influence and painterly tradition is held in perfect tension; in others, sections of realism break open into energetic explosions of color, dragged palette-knife streaks, and slashing brushstrokes. In still others, there is an almost classical stillness to the form and tonalist palette Dhein uses to portray more atmospheric motifs.

When it comes to subjects for his portraits and figures, this artist finds interest in a variety of people, in particular other creatives. Mid-movement stills of ballerinas dancing across the canvas are a common theme, as are portraits of various types of musicians.

In his painting “Classical Musician #3,” for instance, Dhein pays homage to a gifted cellist. “The classical arts are a great source of inspiration,” he shares. “Recently a professional cellist gave an elegant private performance during a modeling session, and it was a very unique experience. Getting to know the musician personally also helped stimulate my creativity. After experiencing such grandeur, my goal was to create something beautiful with a modern twist, by combining a contemporary and traditional approach.”

Dhein’s penchant for traditional and contemporary was acquired both from artists he admires and his self-education and experimentation. He received his B.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin (Oshkosh) in 2006. Upon graduating, he held a day job while continuing to pursue further education through workshops and taking on portrait commissions. In 2009 Dhein committed to painting full-time. Realizing he needed to extend his education further, he decided to earn his M.F.A. from Academy of Art University (San Francisco). He graduated in 2014, and began teaching drawing and painting there that same year.

Learn more about the artist:

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  1. As a professional artist but more importantly a professional cellist (for 40 years) I take issue with the painting by Dhein of the cellist. The bow is not properly placed on the string and the cellist is not holding the bow correctly at the frog. I am SO tired of musicians being represented incorrectly! For heaven’s sake-either get a real cellist as a model or paint the cellist correctly! Also-writers of articles extolling art representing musicians, do some research to see if the artist has painted the subject correctly!


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