Ridley Howard interviews painter Ellen Altfest about her work.
I think I learned to be an artist as a still life painter and then applied that language to the figure. Maybe the body is more understandable when it is broken down into knowable pieces. I also like that the parts of the body become their own things, separate from the person they belong to. There’s a funny sense of ownership that happens too, like this part of a person belongs to me in a way, while I’m working with it... The model is part of the work, which is an intimate relationship, and a real bond can develop between us. Our dynamic, and how he is feeling, affects the atmosphere of the studio and my level of focus. Ultimately, it’s about part of the model I’m painting, not about the model himself. I have a separate connection with that body part, just like I would with a tree or plant."