Figure Work

The figure has been the most prominent subject of Cole’s work. While portraiture provides a forum to convey a subject’s likeness in more conventional ways, figure work has allowed Cole to experiment with composition, technique, and materials.

Like many artists that specialize in figure work, Cole has generated countless pieces depicting the human form throughout her career. Many of these pieces have been “quick draws” of live models, helping Cole become familiar with proportion, perspective, and movement. Other pieces have allowed her to master particular materials and techniques, and some have simply encouraged her to experiment with different tools and representations. Most of these works remain in her personal sketchbooks and journals, or now belong to private collections, but when Cole’s figure work has been on display, it has well-received, as evident by the following review, which appeared in the New Art Examiner.

 “Cole commands our interest because of her obvious skill with the medium. Brushstrokes are clean-cut and limpid; they are in the service of a keen and deft eye. The drawing is firm and sure… The still life oils are placid and handsome.

“It is the figure works that most compelled the eye, as nudes tend to do. Several drawings are not just observations but a short catalog of stylistic approaches, ranging from an ‘ink-splashed’ style to a prismatic-lens rendition to another dedicated to [Hans] Bellmer. The pastels evoke Degas… . Cole’s nudes are firm, sleek, and luminescent forms that emerge from a shower of warm umbers and siennas. Works such as these are in good part based on ‘permission to look.’ The viewer, and by the artist, his life to save her, to celebrate. Certainly, the lust will lust, the puritanical will burn; each will see what he’s predisposed to see. With this artist, one is led to see the mystery of beauty, the beauty of mystery.” —Karl Moehl

Over the years, Cole has completed works depicting the human body—in full or in part—in carbon, pastel, graphite, chalk, charcoal, oils, and other media. Below are representative samples of this work.