Finally some oil paintings! Being separated from my oils is rough, I tells you. 

These two are painted on 4inX4in wood panels, which were coated in gloss medium so the grain of the wood is still visible. 

These are my Winterkins, created initially back when the weather was colder, and they're sort of like the embodiments of winter. I was inspired by the recent fashion trend that involves a lot of cultish, quasi-spiritual and occult elements, and the results have been sleeker, starker fashion choices for my figures. As well as a lot of triangles. It's a combination of ancient and medieval symbolism and designs, 1970s-style fantasy illustration, and the more naturalistic elements from my older work. The result is a lot of natural, complex details combined with larger areas of flat, geometric space, and is something I find really aesthetically pleasing. 

They're also portraits. The figures are the same as those in The Universe, and are basically me, in black, and Beastie, in white, along with the things I've come to associate with each of us: trees and crows for me, bones and rabbits for him. 

As for the process, painting on wood is fun. It's nice and smooth. The only downside is that because it's so smooth, it's easy to wipe the paint back off during the painting process if it gets built up too thickly. So these were made using a lot of thin layers and glazes. The other things about very smooth surfaces is that dust and debris show up really easily, so you have to be diligent about keeping them clean. 

I'd like to do another pair for summer (the Summerkins), but I still have to work out their details. They will remain with the same color schemes, though some of the elements may change. 

triangles, occultism and water media

I've been listening to a lot of witch house, can you tell?

Here's some of the watercolor stuff I've been doing. I've lately been very into triangles, as I may have mentioned before. They started showing up on the throats of my figures, and I like how it looks, so we'll be seeing more of it. I've also been into occult symbols and the like. I've worked with them minorly before, but I really like what they add to an image--something like esoteric writing--and so I'll be using more of those, too. 

From the top:

Priestess is the earliest piece here. She's pretty simple, done in watercolor, India ink and gouache. Her design was based on a combination of occultism and '70s-ish graphic/fantasy illustration, which used a lot of solid areas of color for a look that's simple and linear so it's at once streamlined and modern while still evoking traditional fantasy. So that's what she is

The Universe is a double portrait, and done in a more detailed, traditional style. This was made using the usual mix of water media as well as some acrylic paints, which were watered down to the point of behaving like watercolors. I also used some interference paints, which add some nice iridescent detailsI had a lot of fun making this one. The sky was made my wetting the paper and basically letting the paint go wherever (not too much, though. I'm too much of a control freak for total abandon) and then forming cloud/nebula shapes by shading and highlighting the resulting forms. The costuming was probably the most fun. I used to draw costumes all the time--when I was a kid I would have reams of paper with these bizarre fashion innovations on them--and then somewhere in college I started painting nudes because SERIOUS ART or something. But there's so much you can do with clothing. From a conceptual standpoint, it adds to the characterization of figures. From a technical standpoint, it's a great way to practice a lot of textures. Here, I got to play with sheer fabric and fur, as well as metallic surfaces for the accents. Oh, and that's a dodecahedron on his brooch thing there. Hooray for Platonic solids!

Finally we have, um, this guy. Drawing a scantily clad man with a come-hither expression and a big fucking gun just sort of made sense one day, so here he is. This has more acrylic in it than The Universe, specifically the fluorescent colors that like to cause retinal damage but are fun anyway. I don't know where this came from, to be honest. I just wanted to do something uncomfortable on several levels. A friend came over and said that this picture "creeped him out." I said that if it creeped him out, then I did my job right. 

water media madness

 I was terribly, and pleasantly, surprised to find that THIS is what it looks like when you use water media on fabric. I had tried it before with some small pieces, but it works really well on a larger scale, too, and can be built up to a decent opacity. 

I was originally going to hang these on our closet doors at home, kind of a his'n'hers sort of thing, but the doors seem to be made of diamond and cannot be pierced by the pointy things of man. So they live on my desk. 

Up top is some beast boy creepiness, complete with blood and pointy claw fingers. And a hair bow. I used Mod Podge to seal the fabric on this one, and I'm not sure if it was that or if it was just not stretched properly, and so the fabric buckled slightly. It didn't effect the outcome, really, but was not as pleasant to paint on. This is primarily gouache, tinted with watercolor.

Below is some fashionable witchiness. This one was created using gouache and watercolor as well as India ink, acrylic paint and gel pen. REMEMBER GEL PENS??? I bought some bright pink gel pens a while ago on a whim because they transported me back to seventh grade, where the cool thing to do was to scrawl all over yourself and your friends with smeary opaque ink. They made the finer pink branches near the bottom, and were fun to use. 

So, they're not oils. Nothing is oils. But they were fun to make, and I got to play with lots of interesting ways to combine colors and materials. The only thing about this, which I discovered the last time I tried this, was that because of the primed surface, the paints will wipe right off if they get wet, so I might want to spray seal these sometime. Although, during the painting process, this feature actually came in handy as it served as an "eraser" of sorts. 

I really like bright pink and I need to use more of it. I've also found I really like designing costumes and painting fantastical clothing, and will be continuing this trend.


So, I didn't mention this because I don't like posting very personal things on the Interwebz, but my dog died in August. It was really hard on my mom and me. I didn't really want to talk about it with anyone. 

But I made my mom this picture of Calypso for Christmas, with her big pink belly and her knobbly feel and big giant eyeballs. I was going to depict her engaged in an activity, but Calypso's favorite activities were killing rabbits and rolling in shit, so I went for a more traditional portrait. 

Here she is.  

way down

So I've finally, finally been able to complete a new painting! This is Way Down in the Valley, a kind of spiritual successor to The Valley, which I completed a few years ago. It has the same elements, double portrait with skullheads, but this one is, um, better. 

These figures started off looking like this. Why would I create extremely detailed faces just to cover them with skull paint, you ask? Because I am quite out of my mind, obviously. But from a practical standpoint, it looks better. After all, if you apply face paint, you're applying it to a preexisting surface, full of color and texture, which will inform what the end result looks like. So that's what I did here. I created the faces, and then applied the makeup on top. Which I essentially explained in the last post. 

There's also glitter. I haven't used glitter in a while, which is a shame because glitter is singularly fantastic. 

The idea behind this painting is the same as the idea behind The Valley; it's about true love, and how loving someone truly means accepting the darker aspects of their person, going down into the valley with them and accepting the fullness of their personality and psyche, not just picking out the parts you're comfortable with.

an artist you should know: Sarah Joncas

 After shirking my "Artist You Should Know" duties for a long time, I bring you Sarah Joncas, whose work falls under the pop surrealism category. Using oil and acrylic, she creates complex, multilayered images of women, evoking several emotions at once, while still retaining a unique stylization. Often her work encompasses several styles, including pin-up, classic portraiture and painting techniques, and graphic elements. Her work can be slightly uncomfortable, and she plays with the traditional ideas of portraiture, femininity and beauty. I currently follow her work on deviantART and Facebook.

So! Here's a small sample of her work. From the top:

After Dark. This moody portrait reminds me of the other, unseen side of a classic beauty queen, lying alone in a darkened room, still wearing her dress and pearls. It's a quiet, contemplative moment that may also be a little morbid. 

I Think I'm Paranoid. I love the bold, graphic patterning here, especially in contrast to the more delicate elements of the figure and the moths. I also like how it's worked into the figure, making it seem as though she's blending into, or emerging from, the wall behind her. It's ostensibly a cheerful pattern, but in this context it's jarring and frenetic, adding to the sense of nervousness. 


I Think, Therefore I Am. She reminds me very much of kitschy, '60s-style housewifey goth, like Morticia Addams, complete with little cartoon bat wings accompanying her lightbulb. Her apprehension is palpable.

It Became Courtney Love. According to the description on the dA page, this was originally intended to be a picture of Norse goddess Freya. But now it's Courtney Love. I kind of couldn't pass up the opportunity to have a picture of Courtney Love here, because I do appreciate her so, but I also like the vulnerability in the face. 

The All Seeing. This is one of Joncas' more overtly surrealistic pieces, sort of a mashup of mysticism and pin-up girls. I feel like there are many interpretations that could come out of this image, with the eyes looking very flat and painted on (which of course they are, but in two ways), the fact that the figure is covering her real eyes, and the confusion as to what, or whether, she can see.

The Crow Charmer. It's similar to The All Seeing in its mystical element, but this one seems more traditional, calling to mind nature deities and animal familiars. While the pin-up style is still very evident, there's less modernity in this one, and the figure seems more sure of herself, surveying her dark realm.

how to avoid having people try to talk to you

 Fangirlism has reared its ugly head once again, and I found myself with a new host of Jeff the Killer crap. Most of these were drawn on the train going to and from work, and I can tell you that drawing things like this is a great way to ensure that no one will sit next to you. 

All of them are Micron pen on some kind of non-special paper, all are about 3 X 5 inches. All were drawn on whims based on stupid shit I thought was amusing in passing. 

From the top: 

Jeff after a shower. He's a grimy dude most of the time, sleeps outside and often can be seen with dirt, twigs, dried blood and bugs in his hair. But occasionally he likes to clean up a bit and comb himself. That girl there might be Jane the Killer, who stars in an even less well-thought-out Creepypasta than Jeff, if that's even possible. Or it might just be a self-portrait.

 Coffee. This is the closest to the original image that I've ever drawn. Which isn't very. But check out that lettering fail. Lesson learned: Do not attempt lettering while on a moving train.

 Jeff and Jane (or whoever) again after a bout of stabbing or whatever it is they do to express their feelings about one another. The plants were fun to do.


Jeff drools. Jeff doesn't particularly care about his drooling problem, even though it's gross; he considers it a minor price to pay for his beautiful smile. The spiral there reads "smiley, smiley, smiley, smiley," because that was the song that serendipitously started playing on my iPod while I was working on this. 


Jeff goes hunting. Now, obviously, a knife has several advantages over a gun, especially if you're a serial killer. It's quiet, it doesn't require reloading and is easily cleaned, repaired, and concealed. But when a bunch of squealing fangirls are let loose in a nature preserve for an updated version of The Most Dangerous Game, Jeff prefers something more dramatic.

Jeff vs. Robert. If you've never seen Rubber, you need to. Basically, Jeff would not win this confrontation.

Finally, this is just inappropriate. And the sad thing is there's an even more inappropriate one waiting to be uploaded. Seriously I need help. But this is something that actually happens regularly, when certain significant others wake up in the night and peer creepily down at me for a few minutes and then have no recollection of it in the morning. It is so creepy. 


So I'm shirking my "Artists You Should Know" habit, but my brain is somewhat fried and I already know what to say about this piece, which I banged out on a whim. Next time.

In the meantime, have this.

I'm calling it With A Knife With A Bigger Knife, which comes from one of my favorite moments in The Venture Bros. It's oil, leaves, pen and bloody tissue on canvas. Yes, it's real blood, but it's not mine. And yes, I know using bodily fluids in art is very "art school," but at least it's not period blood, so that's a start.

I used acrylic gloss medium to glue and seal the tissue down to the canvas, which caused it to bunch up and shred a bit, but creates an interesting texture. Unlike my actual paintings, I didn't have a set plan for this one, and frankly I'm surprised that I'm pleased with the result, because usually when I don't plan ahead, it's a disaster.

I sketched out the portraits of me and Blood Donor in Micron pen, and doodled in some atmosphere and vegetal forms with oil, and applied some dyed leaves, again with gloss medium. 

Honestly? I have no idea about this one. 

I like it, I'm sure of that, but it seems to serve as kind of a place holder between larger, more serious pieces. It's a fairly straightforward double portrait of me and the boyfriend. We like knives. It was admittedly kind of a throwaway piece. It's very small, only about maybe 9X9 inches, and served as something of an experiment.

It's also thematically related to a larger piece I have planned, which will use the brown and blue color scheme, the double portrait, and a sense of the cycle of life and death (though this one is more death-oriented) and of being two small people in the world. 

The sad thing is, this is pretty much all I've been able to do now that I have a Grown Up Job which requires forty hours of each week plus commuting. The upside is that my commute is really nice, and part of that is the ability to sleep through parts of it; I take the train. The commute was actually, in part, what inspired the larger piece I mentioned above, as well as some writing. I've also taken a position as a contributor with an online publication, and recently got my first article published with them. So everything is pretty peachy on the "being an adult" front, but the drawback is that it leaves me less time for painting. Also, the access I had to a digital camera was again shot down by shitty technology, and so this, unfortunately, had to be taken with my iPod, hence the less-than-ideal image quality. I'm hoping to either get one or both of the cameras repaired and, if that fails, get a new camera. Although the prospect of blowing yet another paycheck isn't a welcome one.

And despite the knives, the blood was not acquired through any violence on my part. Today's lesson: don't try to shave when you're drunk.

experiments in pencil

So I don't normally use just colored pencil. I've had a box of Crayolas sitting in my desk drawer forever, and they've been relegated, for the most part, to the foundations of water media pieces. A long time ago, like back in middle school (which was over a decade ago, giving you an idea of how infrequently these things were used), I think they were used to flatly color in some bullshit faux-anime-style fantasy characters. Yeah. We're not getting into that. 

But I saw some colored pencil work online, namely this piece by a deviantART buddy (which is like, way, way more accomplished than mine here), and started to get interested. It helped that the figure pictured looks like Boyfriend. 

So what I've found after working with pencils is that they're just like watercolors! Just without the water. This is because with both media, you start with the lightest colors and build up to the darkest, with the paper itself serving as your white. It's basically the opposite of oils, where white and light colors are added last, as highlights. You can do that because oils are opaque, while pencils and watercolors are transparent. Make sense? Good. 

(Full disclosure: I cheat at water media by using white gouache for highlights, which is opaque. I can't help it. I'm an oil-painter at heart.)

The other thing is that I've been working on leftover scraps of Arches watercolor paper, which is wonderful for water media, but a bit rough for pencil, making it hard to get very fine detail. I'd like to try out a smoother paper and see what happens. I don't dislike the roughness, but I think I could get more out of a picture on a smoother surface. I have two other pencil pieces, but they were purely experimental and frankly kind of suck, so I'm not going to show them.

So yeah, I decided that for this piece I'd use my fallback subject of Boyfriend/Beast Boy and all his teeth. Yes, the size of his mouth and teeth are exaggerated for effect. But it's more about capturing the murderous rage personality. I've also been really into eyeballs lately, and capturing the correct shine. I've yet to hone the wet-shine look with pencils, as I'm used to just glopping on some white pigment.

Isn't he cute?

coming soon

 So I've been working on a few new things--mainly, two new things. And here's a sneak peak of one of them! 

Both pieces are oil on canvas, and for both I'm taking a very traditional figure-painting route, lots (and lots and lots) of glazing and attention to minute detail. I am really, really happy with how the eyes turned out. I spent a lot of time staring creepily into the eyes of friends and relatives to see how they look, where the highlights are, and how to create the sense of depth and texture in them. These are Neo Megilp glazes, but the painting will have some stand oil in it as well.

These photos are already somewhat outdated, as I've been working on these steadily for quite some time. I've lately been liking the sort of Renaissance-style approach to painting, with lots of underpainting and glazing, and a multi-step approach to creating the human form. Since skin is translucent, I feel it's the appropriate way to really capture the luminosity and depth of human flesh and faces--like the way light comes through the skin of noses and ears, and how the skin gets thin enough to see the blood vessels around eyes. I've always been impressed by paintings where, when you look at them, you know what the surfaces feel like, even though it's just mineral paste smeared on a piece of cloth. The Waterseller of Seville by Diego Velázquez is one that always struck me. Looking at it, you know exactly what those pitchers of water feel like; the one on the left is smooth, heavily glazed and somewhat hefty, while the one on the right is rougher, and cold from the water inside. You can feel the condensation on your hands. It's just amazing. 

Anyway, to get back to this painting, that's what I want to achieve, but with people. Oh, and I should mention that these faces are going to be covered by some skullhead makeup. Not entirely, I'm not masochistic enough to do all this work to completely mask it, but yes, they're going to have skullheads. So why am I doing all this work? Because it'll look better. Look, when you put makeup on, you have a face underneath. The colors and textures of that face inform what the makeup is going to look like, so it stands to reason that this would also be true in a painting. Don't look at me like that. I'm just being insane thorough. The skullhead bits are going to be a bit different from my older versions, though, lighter and more delicate and still leaving plenty of the skin on show. 

I can't wait for this to be done! Not out of impatience but out of excitement!

of wolves and foxes

I had some trouble classifying this painting (and I do so love to classify), because its attributes fall into both the Home and the Medieval categories of my painting. It's on fabric, and features the painting style that I usually use for the Home pictures, but the clothing and composition, as well as the inspiration, are more in keeping with the Medieval style.

The title, Ai Vis Lo Lop, is Old Provencal and translates to "I saw the wolf." It's also the title of a song, which was the inspiration for this piece. Here are the wolf and the fox, meeting under the tree. There's also a rabbit mentioned in the song, but I think they ate it. Fun fact: the term "seeing the wolf" was also a slang term for losing one's virginity. So take that as you will.

I had a lot of fun painting this one, and I'm very happy with how the faces came out in particular, and I tried to keep them as close to the sketch as possible. I really like using pink in faces. That's me on the left as a little black fox, and Beastie on the right as a gray wolf. This was also the first time since I was about six that I've drawn anybody with animal ears, and I was a bit apprehensive about it, especially after seeing all the furry/anthro/neko-neko-kawaii bullshit the Internet has to offer. I like them, though, and I was thinking of it in terms more of medieval-style pageantry than literal anthropomorphism.

tales from the sketchpad, part 6

The time has come to end the sketchpad series. It's sad, I know, but my poor pens are suffering from exhaustion and quite frankly, I'm tired of the sketchpad. Like, really tired.

So here are the last two pages of the sketchpad. My .01 pen was fading fast, so as you can see, I resorted to using a .08 for the backgrounds of both of these. I don't like the heavier line quite as much as I do building up layers of finer lines, but it's passable.

Up top we have another Jeff. Seriously I am the sickest fangirl for him, because I have a thing for long-haired guys with crazy eyes, toothy smiles and big knives. I don't know what that says about me, exactly, but I'm okay with it. He's seen here after a long and productive night cleaning his knife off. Pasta-monsters have a pass when it comes to blood-borne diseases. Jeff's .08 background actually came from necessity, as there was some Prismacolor marker bleed-though from the other side of his page that had to be covered. And you always have to cover up the bleed-through, right Jeff?

Next is a portrait of me and Beasty. I'm not 100% thrilled with this one, but I wanted a picture of the two of us and here it is. I struggled with this for a long time, going through about a thousand pencil versions--the remnants of which you can still make out in the white areas of the image--before settling on this one. I was originally going for something a little sexier, but it never quite worked the way I wanted.

I salute you, Sketchpad. You will be missed. Kind of.

little watercolors

Here are some watercolors I had kicking around because I am tired of talking about the Sketchpad. (There will be one more sketchpad entry, and then we're done. Done, I tell you.)

First we have a very, very civilized portrait of Beasty, where he is looking very proper and wearing clothes. He looks nice in blue. The subject however, was critical of this piece. His critique was WHY DID YOU MAKE ME A BLOND WOMAN?

The second piece was done for a Hitchcock-themed group show. This is inspired by Rope, which is not one of the movies everyone thinks of when they think of Hitchcock, but is really quite good. This piece now belongs to my friend. It's a bit more cartoony than I usually go, but I think it works. I also think I got the expressions of the characters right: reluctant follower on the left, smug douche on the right.

I have a bunch of big oils paintings in the works, but I have to figure out a way to photograph them since the autofocus on my camera is still auto-fucked. I will likely borrow my mom's camera, but I really dislike that camera. Oh well. It will have to do.

tales from the sketchpad, part 5

Two posts in one day? What is this?

So there aren't many pages left in the old sketchpad, and so our tales will be winding down soonish. But here are some more lovely pictures of Boyfriend. Isn't he the cutest?

The first one is what would happen if you crossed Jeff the Killer with The Rake. Because you know what you get? The Jake. Get it?
It's funny because that's his name. And because he really looks like this. Shortly after I drew the first image, he was chasing me around, as usual, and then he stopped and said thoughtfully, "You know, I finally get why you always draw me as a creepy animal."

I was like, wow, took you long enough.

Shortly thereafter he requested another portrait where he looked a little more dignified. He said he wanted to be shown wrapped in his dead animal blanket (it's fur, I don't know what kind) with some kind of bone decoration. So here he is relaxing in the evening. I like to think he's saying, "Hi there, why don't you sit down and relax and have some wine. Of course it's not really wine, it's the blood of your loved ones for I am The Jake." It's hard to see but his necklace is a human hand.

He's so great.

(Also, I've been reading a lot of Creepypasta lately. I really like Jeff the Killer, he's adorable, but his backstory blows. It makes like zero sense. I wrote him a new one over on deviantART and he'd better fucking appreciate it.)

tales from the sketchpad, part 3

The sketchpad returns!

Today in the world of sketchpad, we'll be looking at my three most recent drawings. This is what I've been doing instead of working on my Sketchbook Project, which is supposed to be postmarked tomorrow in order to be part of the tour. Trouble is, I hate the sketchbook and everything in it because the paper is horrid quality and makes everything suck. I just can't send it in. I just can't. It looks like crap.

So I've been drawing instead on some actual paper and I came up with these little beasties. I used an 01 Sakura Micron pen, and the paper is 80 lb. Strathmore, and I'm really happy with how they came out.

Top one is Lost Girls, who are skullheads, and began as a possible painting sketch about girls who disappear. Next is Sea Beast, which is essentially a self-portrait. At least, that's what my hair looks like after a day at the beach. Finally we have Land Beast, who is like Boyfriend if Boyfriend was the Rake.

He's so cute.

Overall, I'd say I'm pleased with how my pen use is evolving, as opposed to the last times I've used this sketchpad. It's become more painterly, in a way, and less dependent on clean linear forms, less controlled. I'm liking the depth I've been able to create with these, as well as the variations in tone.

I already have some more of these planned!

yule, and a little bit of soul-eating

It's that time again--the shortest day of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least, which is where I live), and time to appreciate the darkness and the coming light.

So to celebrate, here's a watercolor of me and some bony crows of winter enjoying the cold. I like the winter. I like all seasons, in fact, and I think it's kind of weird when people say they don't like a certain season. First of all, disliking a season seems pointless, because there's nothing you can do about it (except contribute to the greenhouse effect, I guess). Then there's the fact that I find the change of seasons refreshing, and I think I would get really bored if there were only one or two seasons. Four is a nice amount. Just when you're getting tired of one, it changes. When you're tired of the heat, summer's over and it's autumn. When you're tired of the cold, it's spring. And when you're tired of the changeable weather, it becomes either consistently hot or consistently cold. Right now it's cold and dark, and you can see all the lights for miles thanks to the relative clarity of cold air. And there are cookies.

Also just for fun here's a picture of Zooey Deschanel,
(whose name I never know to pronounce "Zoh-ee" or "Zu-ee"), in all her horrifying glory. Seriously, lady creeps the shit out of me. I think it's her enormous, icy, soulless eyes and the fact that in every photo I see of her, she seems to be saying, "Boop!" while thinking about the inevitable invasion by her alien compatriots.

Plus I hate it when actors only play one type of role. I just want to see her play like a crack dealer or a ruthless assassin. Just once. Please?

the fifth dimension makeover episode

It was apparently a time for re-doing things. Sometimes spending some time apart from a piece of work allows you to see more clearly the problem areas, and then you can go back in and make the necessary adjustments. First up was Caligula Rape Face and his non PC title. Which is still the same, mind you. The original image, which I've uploaded here, was completed some time last summer (I think), and I was only partially pleased with it. But after spending so much time together, I couldn't think critically about it. So recently I gave him some major reconstructive surgery and I'm liking how he turned out. I fixed the face to better resemble the person it's based on, added detail to the face and hand, made the hair fluffier and added a yellow color, and made the body stand out more by adding white and blue glazes to the preexisting pink ones. I also fancied up his cross necklace a bit, and changed the bird skull into a rabbit skull. And of course I added MOAR glitter and some cute little pink heart sequins to the bottom. And yes, I'm still using Martha. I'm really happy with the face now, and the original looks totally crappy by comparison. This is also the first oil painting I've (re)completed in a while, which is a nice feeling. The next image isn't so much a re-do as a different version of a sketch. The original Sepsis, Sugarplums and Blood is a simple pencil sketch from my sketchbook (there's my curly little handwriting at the bottom), and was drawn after a weird night with some friends. I later developed it into a water media piece, using watercolor, ink, watercolor pencil and gouache on Arches paper. I didn't originally intend for them to have neon hair like that, but I like how it turned out. Also, I once did have purple hair like that. What I like about the two of these when seen side by side is the facial expressions, which are all different, but equally likeable. Each picture communicates a distinct mood, with the pencil sketch being somewhat sadder and more nihilistic (which was kind of how I was feeling after said night with friends), and the water media one is happier. I also thought the fly on the orange-haired one was a nice addition. That was Beast Boy's idea.

trashback 3: politically incorrect

So here's another Trash item that was supposed to have a mate that I never got around to finishing. It's full of Martha Stewart glitter and religious imagery and general debauchery. If I don't upload it now it'll never get uploaded, so here you go.

This is Caligula Rape Face. At least, that's been its working title for a while now. It's not terribly politically correct of me, is it? I'll often come up with shitty names for paintings while I'm working on them, usually out of sheer annoyance, and they either will or won't stick after the painting process is complete. This one stuck, perhaps unfortunately. I don't know what to tell you.

Anyway, this is a stand-oil painting made with like an entire tube of alizarin crimson and Martha Stewart glitter in Tourmaline (which is a mineral and actually comes in a variety of colors, but Martha is referencing the dark pink kind, I guess). Collaged into the top corners are Jesus, left, from the Godescalc Lectionary, and Shiva.

You'll notice that the figure, which was derived from a photograph, is wearing pearls. This painting taught me something: painting pearls is annoying. The bird skull, however, was a lot of fun. On the whole, the painting, part of the underrepresented Trash body, is about holy debauchery and general sacrilege.

I don't know how much I like this painting really, and there's an off chance that I may return to work on it, making improvements here and there, refining it a bit, but I felt for honesty's sake that its current form should be shown. Maybe one day I'll even get around to finishing its partner painting. Stranger things could happen.


I very much like ovals. They're instantly decorative and pretty, and there's something charmingly old-fashioned about them. They make me think of cameos and lockets and old photographs. I think it's a lovely format. Oval stretchers and canvases, however, can be quite expensive and hard to stretch.

So instead of buying oval canvases, which cost $25 each, I decided to experiment and bought a package of six wooden embroidery hoops of the same size (6 by 12 in. diameter) for about $13 in total from Create For Less, which is a pretty cool crafting site. Many hoops are plastic these days, but they still make wood ones. Embroidery hoops are simple to use, and for painting I recommend tightening the screw with pliers to keep the fabric as taut as possible. Even with this extra tightening, though, expect the fabric to buckle slightly, especially after priming. There isn't really a way around it.

I originally only planned five of these oval paintings, though I do have an extra hoop kicking around, so I may do another in the future. These are made with scraps of fabric from other paintings and projects (like that dress I said I'd make like two years ago). Being small, they were rather painstaking, but they are easily portable and very lightweight--they can be hung on a tack.

I find the embroidery hoops to go well with the concepts I've been working with in the Home body of work--domesticity, tradition, and safety, as well as a nod to children's book illustrations. I also got to give each figure a carefully planned-out set of clothing and accessories.

From the top:
Father's Daughter was the first one I thought of, and is admittedly a bit hipster-ish. But I like it anyway. The deer refers to my dad again, but I think I'm beginning to separate deer into Dad deer and Me deer.

Next is Rabbit Eater, the only male in the bunch. So called because he's going to eat that rabbit. This is the same subject known in other works as "Beast Boy."

Of A Feather is a double self-portrait, and while it would be nice and simple to say that each figure represents a side of myself, that is not the case. Two aspects, maybe, but even then, that's not quite accurate. I think it's really just a nice tea party of narcissism.

Everything Must Someday Die features a cute little skullhead. I kind of picture her in the "goldengrove" of Gerard Manley Hopkins' "Spring & Fall" , except that instead of weeping for the passing of time and the concept of death, she's joyfully part of it.

Finally comes The Smell of Decay, with an exterminator, looking grim and destructive. As exterminators do.

I plan to hang these as a set--they look better together than alone. More big paintings coming soon!

an artist you should know: Marlene Dumas

Marlene Dumas (you pronounce the S), born in South Africa in 1953, lives and works in the Netherlands, and creates these ethereal human figures. The immediacy and the watery-ness of her faces and bodies is at once clear and simple, even childlike, and darkly complex. She explores many aspects of the human condition in her work, from age to sexuality to race to death. She gained some notoriety for Dead Marilyn, which is taken from an autopsy photo of Marilyn Monroe, and call to mind issues of celebrity, sensationalism and identity. She has also done several images of Kurt Cobain--one called Alizarin Kurt I particularly like, but can't find an image of. She's also known for doing a portrait of Osama bin Laden, stripped of his usual turban-and-glower ensemble and almost looking like a nice person. (On a personal note, I have a theory that Obama ordered bin Laden killed so everyone would talk about something other than Kate and William's wedding.)

Dumas works almost exclusively from photographic sources, adding another layer of separation between herself and her subject, and making her work somewhat dependent on the quality of the photo. I can appreciate this, though my style is nothing like hers. I've often been chastised for working from photos rather than from life, but I find photos, which evoke feelings themselves, to be better for the kind of work that I do. The captured instant is, to me, fresher and more natural than a posing model. (Obviously, I work from candid or at least informal photos.) I especially like "bad" photos--washed out, under- or overexposed, or at weird angles. That way, there's more room for interpretation and generally, I find, a better translation into a painting.

That, and getting someone to sit still for several hours usually costs a lot of money.

Marlene Dumas, everyone.