Kyra Cowan mixes intimacy with mystery with her oil portraits painted on board. She depicts the human body with great detail and attention to texture, while omitting backgrounds altogether. Her subjects aren't laden with defining characteristics on their clothes or hair; all personal information comes from their highly emotional expressions. Cowan's portraits often confront the viewer with stares ranging from forceful to pleading, as if daring you to turn away while imploring you not to.
Though Cowan has painted a variety of subjects, including landscapes and images inspired by current events, her most frequent focus is the human face. Her depictions of close-up figures and bust-length portraits come from an unexpected source material: fashion photography. Cowan interprets models' features, from glamorous to waif-like, into sensitive portraits that bring out more personality and atmosphere than a commercial photo would, while retaining the mystery that made these images fashionable in the first place. The balancing act is deceptively skillful.
Cowan was born in Nova Scotia, Canada and has lived in the San Francisco Bay area for several years, where she works in biotech. She is a self-taught artist.