Self portrait measuring 3ft wide by 8ft tall | oil finger painting with brush -painted skin
Holding a needle in her right hand, the subject pulls thread through the fabric of the dress she is wearing. The dress is full of textural surfaces, the bodice is a patchwork quilted together. The fabric has no stretch, it’s stiff, prickly in places, and likely uncomfortable. Her skin is smooth and she wears no jewelry. Her left hand clutches the thick fabric which appears to be covered in tiny metallic scales or sequins. The dress is heavy and a little difficult to lift based on how she bends to pull it upwards toward the thread. Her expression is focused and not aware of a viewer. Her height is surreal but the proportions of the torso are not ellongated. Is she standing on a chair? Is she on stilts? The background at first glance seems to be a real forest, but on closer examination we find an antique light switch, giving away the fact it’s wallpaper. The carpet is a velvety green, reading almost like grass on first look, but no this is entirely an indoor scene. Is this woman reattaching a sequin away from the party? Or is she building a dress from scratch and we are catching her only partially done with her ensemble?
My posture was chosen very specifically. I didn’t want a dainty lady happily sewing or hemming her dress, I wanted a position that reminded me slightly of Judith Slaying Holofernes by 1614 painter Artemisia Gentileschi. Artemisia’s painting should be so much more famous than it is, especially since it was painted by a woman 300 years ago! I also didn’t wear makeup or do my hair carefully for this portrait. I wanted to appear in a state of mid-construction.
The Technique | finger paint plus brushes
I have spent the last decade exclusively working as a finger painting artist. While faces are more than possible to finger paint larger than life, life-sized faces in the 7 inch range and smaller are impossible to execute realistically without the use of brushes. I was torn, do I break my code and take a brush to this face? Or do I make the painting 15ft tall so I can finger paint the skin? I remembered the words of Maude from my favorite cult classic movie “Harold and Maude”, when she exclaims “consistency is not a human trait!” So I bought some brushes and had such a wonderful time working in thin layers to develop the skin tones. I really like how the skin surfaces are flat on this work while the rest of the painting is packed with textural finger painted dabs. While I don’t want to start relying too much on paint brushes, I will likely continue to paint the faces of my subjects with a brush in order to capture details that would otherwise be impossible.
Fashion Construction | A new challenge of 3D
Opening May 4th at Filo Sofi Arts in New York City is my solo show “Ritual in Pairing”. The dress as well as the self portrait will be on view. On May 17th the public is invited back to the gallery for the performance portion of the self portrait. This will be my first time showing fashion, sculpture, and performance art alongside my paintings.
Working with the show’s theme of peacocking, my goal is to design a dance that highlights the magic of courtship mating dances in certain birds. With special attention paid to the peacock and the bower bird, I will also draw focus to other species like color-changing octopi and squid. These incredible creatures spend their lives evoking beautiful colors in order to attract love.
We are so similar to these animals, we collect and arrange pretty shiny objects, we place colors side-by-side, all in hopes of that approving gaze in the viewer. Fueled by that core need to be loved and feel connected with others, I ask my audience to join me this May in a metaphorical courtship between artist and art-lover.