‘The Plunge’ by Anne Faith Nicholls

Anne Faith Nicholls is an American contemporary artist based in California. Best recognized for her Neosurrealistic paintings, Nicholls has exhibited in collections, galleries, museums and fairs around the world, and also contributed to a variety of high profile commercial projects with renowned collaborators. Often exploring the subconcious, her works are layered and mysterious, creating symbolic and alluring narratives on the human condition, with a unique perspective. 


I found this image as I was looking for illustrations which showed a character with a high level of focus, or depicted in the ‘state of flow’. I realised that by unravelling my reaction to this work, that I could learn a lot about expressing emotional states and state of mind from this artist.


My thoughts are that the symbols in the piece loosely translate as;

stormy weather- difficulties, problems, dark clouds hovering, worries

Rain- tears, upset, release of emotion

The hand- fate, a higher power, good fortune

Lighthouse and dawn sun rays- hope, optimism, guidance and support

Dark waters- unknown experiences, deep feelings.

The woman turns her back on all these things. She is focussed, determined and prepared. she is making herself brave, having contemplated all of these emotions and circumstances whilst walking along the diving board, the perspective of which makes it seem like it was a long journey. There is tension as her body is held for that moment of potential energy before she dives. Her eyes are open, her gaze lifted and fixed on her goal off to the left of the image. Having her on the left, looking left also creates tension and uncertainty. Diagonals in bottom right create dynamic tension, as do the lightning shards

Her main environment has depth: the central ‘bubble’ in which she is standing has a foreground, perspective and very distant horizon. However, all the other images are framed in circles, perhaps thought bubbles, which are at the same foreground level of the figure. It feels that the thoughts are pressing into her space and there is an overwhelming chaos around her. It demands our attention, which otherwise would immediately follow her gaze off to the left and out of the frame. Instead we are drawn back into and away from centre, highlighting again the tension caused by ‘capturing’ this moment when the figure is poised ready to dive and holding it indefinitely.

The more I look at this image the stronger my feelings become; it is so effective at building an emotional tension and empathy that I am unnerved, almost uncomfortable. And yet I have to look at the image again, in the hope that something will be resolved. In the end, we are left in the same position as the figure, who does not know what her future will be but must rely on optimism, that her faith determination and preparedness will lead her to a positive outcome.

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