Twenty-eight-year-old artist Amanda Oleander is interested in the things people do when they get home and can be unabashedly themselves. She illustrates these moments in her contemporary, bright, and usually figurative works.
“My style is influenced by artists I studied while getting my BFA, such as Modigliani, Alice Neel, and Picasso,” Oleander told A Plus. “But I’m also very influenced by the cartoons I watched as a child, such as The Rugrats, The Wild Thornberrys, and Tim Burton.”
She draws inspiration from her pieces from her own experiences as well as from the experiences of her friends and family. Her illustrations show the small, everyday moments most of us don’t think too much about. Things like popping each other’s pimples, or drooling on a partner while asleep, or struggling to stay awake while watching a movie together.
“I’m enthralled by the way people behave behind closed doors. Intimate moments we never get to see. Those are the moments that can’t really be documented because, if they were, it would alter the way the person behaved,” Oleander said. “So, I draw them.”
She creates each of her illustrations on custom paper by first using pencil for the sketch, using a thin ink pen for the outlines, and then using markers to color the sketches in.
“When we see couples in the media, we see them holding hands, and laughing and kissing etc., but what about how people act when nobody else is around?” Oleander said. “Those are the raw moments I crave to see. I feel like I am inundated with so many posed, ‘perfect’ photos that I wanted to change that. I try to live by the Elizabeth Gilbert quote, ‘Create the things you wish existed.’ “
In addition to showcasing the experiences of couples, Oleander also explores the things people do by themselves or with friends when they’re at home with no one else around to judge them.
“I think it’s important to explore these topics because they help start conversations about habits or actions that are typically deemed as taboo. We aren’t so different behind closed doors as we might think we are,” Oleander said. “The ‘nipple hair drawing’ is a perfect example.
If you just go through 1,200+ comments on that image you will see so many women feeling relieved that they aren’t the only ones. Many women thought they had a hormone problem, and were too embarrassed to even talk about it. It’s like you can hear the sigh of relief just reading through the responses.”
Based on the response she’s gotten on social media, she’s learned that she’s not the only one yearning to see those “behind closed doors” moments. Many other people want to be reminded that they’re not alone.
Oleander will continue to explore these themes and has some exciting projects in the works. She plans to turn some of her pieces into 3 feet paintings and paint them live on Instagram and Periscope. Overall, she’s excited to continue producing and sharing her creative work.
“I hope people feel something when they look at my work,” Oleander said. “I hope it brings them back to a moment in their life or that it triggers a memory. I hope it makes them see how similar we all are no matter what race or background we might have. But most of all, I hope it makes people happy.”