Portraits of Frida Kahlo

Over the past few weeks I've been working on my people skills. Drawing people skills that is ;-). Faces mainly - eyes, hair, expressions, whatever makes a person unique.

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With Lilla Rogers and her class "Drawing Faces" I learned, among other things, to better examine the placement and proportions of features by studying photos of current celebrities. And wanting to explore this further I decided to research the life and work of inspirational artists, starting with the fascinating Frida Kahlo. There she is surrounded by cactus and succulent plants in front of her Mexican blue house.

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Looking at a number of Frida's paintings (her many self-portraits, The Two Fridas, My Grandparents, my Parents, and Me, Roots, Moses, etc.) it seems clear that an important theme of her work was her identity, both as a self and in relation to another person or encompassing group such as her family and country.

This inspired me to revisit my animal archetypes, which I would love to turn into a deck of tarot-like cards eventually, and where Frida would be an example of both the estranged heron and the swan who fits in.

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And why not also consider the actual tarot, because with how she survived her major accident and handled her difficult marriage to Diego Rivera she easily fits as an archetype of the Strength card, flowers in the hair and all!

Wouldn't it be fun to expand this into a set. I could easily imagine Georgia O'Keefe as The Magician, Yayoi Kusama as The Empress/queen of dots, Picasso as The Devil, or Edward Hopper as The Hermit!

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The Art of Packaging and Paradoxes

I’ve been looking at packaged goods in a whole new way since Uppercase Magazine put out an open call for packaging illustrations. At first it seemed like a quick and easy one, but on second thought, making it fit in my portfolio is a whole other thing.

For a few days I considered every wrapper as I would of a flower or landscape. The perfect solution? RxBars on display at my local coffee shop. Their packaging is just brilliant! And somewhat of a paradox because it prides itself on honesty yet makes us think there's a chef whipping them one by one in small kitchen when for sure they're made in large batches by a processing plant.

Precisely the kind of paradox I love exploring in my work. Even more fun, turning the bars into a metaphor for something else that's hard to break down into a precise recipe: relationships.

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Now for another form of artful packaging, here's a marketing animation I completed last month for a real estate management company. They handed me a voice over from which I selected a few words and then created a whole visual narrative about the home buying process (a bit of a paradox too since the bank is the real owner of the house). Here I used photographs as my source material because the client wanted this kind of realistic look.

While we're on the subject of houses, I never showed you the finished painting from January, but now I will cause I just entered it in a couple competitions on Artists Network. Why not, fingers crossed!

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Stepping into the canvas

A few days ago I saw the fantastic animated movie about Van Gogh, Loving Vincent. There's probably no paintings better suited for this effect than his as they already express so much movement but seeing them in actual motion felt like stepping right into the canvas. All that glorious yellow inspired me to get out my gouache and paint a fresh bouquet of sunflowers.

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You might notice my sunflowers are moving ever so slightly. But I used a quick frame animation as a substitute since I don't have the crazy patience it must have taken to make several versions of one painting!

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Another interesting aspect of the movie is to view the paintings in context of the artist's life. Did you know that his most famous series, the Sunflowers, was painted with a purpose as mundane as decorating Gauguin's room in the yellow house of Arles. And why not... cause sunflowers look good on yellow walls!

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Moving on to another room with my latest exploration on canvas –an abstract painting which I had started in November and picked up again to finish last month. 

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I wasn't quite sure about sharing this one since it's so different than my usual work but it was a fun experience to paint primarily by instinct, and one I might try again. It started with the general idea of a labyrinth, which is what inspired the weaving pattern of brush strokes, but mainly I let the canvas guide the work.

Notice how the paint reflects the light differently depending on the angle, and how sort of like with clouds things emerges from the abstract pattern. What pops out at me in the canvas are two figures embracing one another. Maybe they're even dancing...

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And speaking of people emerging from patterns, here's a pattern made of people just added to my shop

I'll have more people to show next month, with a new class from Lilla Rogers for drawing faces.