Elbowgrease is the working moniker for artist Lauren Skunta. A formally trained painter, Skunta’s work has evolved over time to include a variety of mediums. She chose the name Elbowgrease to represent the physical work and craftsmanship that goes into creating her two and three-dimensional pieces. Recently, Skunta returned to her first love of figure painting, with her current series representing her first installment of figure work combining texture, form, and line.
Skunta is inspired by the negative space our bodies form through different positioning. She aims to capture the gesture of a pose by focusing on areas of tension, where there is a shift in weight, and where there is space. Though the brushwork is impressionistic, the anatomy is grounded in reality. Skunta’s goal is for the compositions to feel as if there is a visual weight to them, that the background is as important as the foreground.
The color palette chosen for each work is limited and is specific to each form’s pose - some are stark as if the figure is spotlit on a pedestal, while others have background hues that compete with the figure itself. The use of raised texture in the background areas shifts the viewer’s focus from subject to composition and back again, bridging the gap between purely figurative and abstract composition.