The first painting in a series of three I will create this semester for my multidisciplinary course. It involves taking older pieces from my first and second year painting classes and recreating them using the knowledge of composition, originality, and the techniques of watercolour and ink that I have developed since making these artworks.
This first watercolour work is a reworking of my “Modern Mona Lisa” from 2016. In looking back to that painting I realized that the composition was over-simplified and blended in with every other cliche Mona Lisa reproduction that the internet has to offer (which are really just the same painting of Mona Lisa with items from popular culture photoshopped onto it). I realized just how cliche my painting was when my friends would send me pictures of photoshopped Mona Lisas in magazines over Instagram. So this time I really made an effort to challenge myself and create a narrative and composition that, while noticeably related to the original Mona Lisa artwork, included an original concept and story.
In this case, the story of “The Mona Lisa Challenge” involves a gallery-held social media challenge in which people sit in front of the background of DaVinci’s masterpiece and try to mimic the famous "Mona Lisa Smile" and pose, using the hashtag #MonaLisaChallenge. The woman I depicted is about to do just that, getting her phone out and bringing up the camera app.
Personally I feel much more comfortable with this 2019 painting than the 2016 artwork. Not just in terms of how my skills have improved over the last three years, but mostly because I was able to push through a challenge of taking a masterpiece painting and creating my own separate narrative from the original artwork. Not to mention how childish I feel the 2016 painting looks. I honestly feel embarrassed to claim Modern Mona Lisa as something that I created, but additionally I think it's important to remember where you started in your artistic journey and how far you've come, not just dismiss the steps you took to be where you are today. So I'll make peace with that first year painting... for now...
If anything, the side-by-side comparison just shows me that I probably still can't do hands properly.
One challenge down, two more to go for this semester...
Oil on canvas
I started this artwork on July 31st 2018 according to my photos. It was started in order to teach myself many things, such as:
- how to use oil paints
- how to paint an oil portrait
- how to not be such a perfectionist and let go, leave things as they are if they are fine
- to be patient with the paint.
Oil paint, because I was brand new to it at the time I began this piece, taught me most importantly to go slow. The two years before I did this work I found myself being quite impatient and messing up my works because of that, and I wanted to change that. This painting was successful in teaching me all of the above, and so well. This process went incredibly smooth, and I amazed myself with what I could do! I also was able to appreciate that I could manipulate the oil paints to blend to the smooth consistency that I had always wanted for my paintings.
The reason this painting took over a year (I just finished it at the end of August 2019!) was due to working full time in the summer and then being at school full time with 5 courses in the fall and winter months. Finally this year I was able to finish it and I am so pleased to share it with you all today. Especially since I have been teasing it on my stories whenever I was working on it within the past year. Princess Di was a fantastic model and great for my practice attempt with oils!
Self-Love for a Pig Girl
Soft Pastel on Stonehenge Paper
This piece was created for a drawing project with the theme Myths, Legends, and Fairy Tales.
For this project we were to choose a myth, legend or fairy tale and use it as inspiration for our drawing. You were allowed to “rewrite” or add a contemporary twist to the ending of the story.
The myth/legend that I chose was “The Pig Lady / The Pig-Headed Lady” which started around the 1600s-1800s. The main story came from a woman named Tannakin Skinker, who was a woman born with a head of a pig. When she was older, her parents tried to marry her off in order to “cure” her. Unfortunately, because she was so “ugly” nobody wanted to marry her, and she spent her whole life with a pig head until her death. (Source: The Myth and Legends Podcast).
After researching this myth/legend, I felt very sympathetic for the pig-lady and wanted to put a better twist on her story, something that was both happy and contemporary. My contemporary twist involved the pig lady taking a mirror selfie, and the happier ending is that she never needed anyone to cure her, if anything she needed to find the confidence and love in herself! This piece is solely focused on the pig lady turning her life around for the better and discovering self-love.
Myths and Legends Podcast: https://www.mythpodcast.com/444/12-pig-faced-women-citation-needed/
Olympia in 2019
Watercolour and Ink on Arches Paper
Olympia in 2019 is Olympia in 2018 (see below) given a second attempt.
This piece was created for a watercolour project in which we were to take a historical art piece and put it into a contemporary context/recreate it with a contemporary twist. When I first became aware of the assignment theme, I immediately knew that this assignment was my chance to remake my Olympia in 2018 painting, a painting I had made almost exactly a year before. Olympia in 2018, while sparking an incredible conversation during critique, did not do well in terms of grading. Looking back I absolutely agree on how it was graded. I could have done so many different things that for some reason I just did not do. So I kept my instructor's critique comments until I would be able to remake this piece properly. And I think I did, with a proper substrate, her full body in the frame and an addition of flowers from Manet’s original piece in the background. I’m very happy with how illustrative this piece looks, and the lush, bright and happy colours! I’m glad I gave this concept a second chance, to redeem both her and myself (skill-wise and academically!).
This piece is based on Edouard Manet’s “Olympia” (as well as Olympia in 2018, see the comparison of the two pieces below) and is a comment on the male gaze and sexual desire, and how men used to objectify women in historical artwork. Olympia in 2018 is a part of my Modernized History painting series, which is going to be recreated as watercolour illustrations in 2019-2020.
Independence vs. Expectation
Graphite and Soft Pastel on Stonehenge Paper
This diptych was made for a drawing project with the theme Duality / Opposing Forces.
This piece is based off of "Your Woman" by White Town (music video at the bottom). The song/video tells the story of two women competing in a simulation to win a man’s heart. Each woman races through a series of choices marked by street signs in a simulated relationship with the man. The protagonist unfortunately sees the truth behind the man's intentions, or a "bad ending" to the relationship in which she ends up alone with the man's child. This is due to her choices of looking for "Truth" and "Love" instead of "Lust" and "Seduction". The other competing woman also switches the road signs in order to throw the protagonist off track, making her see the truth of how her relationship with the man would end in the long run. In the end, the protagonist decides to choose Independence over spending her life with the man (which is shown as Expectation). (You’re encouraged to watch the music video!)
This piece is meant to add to the ending of this story with the main character choosing Independence and knowing that this is the right pathway for her, but looking back on the Expectation side of this story and wondering, despite its predicted dark ending, if she should still consider it because that is what people EXPECT from her.
This piece talks about the expectations that society has for certain people, in this case a woman, and how it might feel weird “going against the grain” and being independent from the life society pushes onto you. Society leads you to think: "Maybe it’s best to go along with the expectations society has for you, even if you know that’s not what’s good and best for you in life."
This is a very important piece to me. In terms of skill, this piece was pivotal in making me realize what I can do with a simple pencil and that I love to spark conversations about life with my work.
Box of (Trans)gression
Acrylic, course molding and fibre paste on wooden box
Ever since I had heard the news about what’s going on in the US and Ontario, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I don’t understand why it’s so important to be focusing on erasing people’s identities rather than other actually serious issues that are happening in the world. Why is it so wrong for people to be who they are? I decided on making a response through artwork in hopes that it would get it out of my head and also create conversations and evoke thoughts for viewers.
The outside of the box features an abstract version of the transgender pride flag. On the inside there are two portraits based off of trans women who were murdered in 2018 (Nikki Janelle Enriquez and Shantee Tucker). Their eyes and mouth are covered by news articles to symbolize the taking away of their identities and voices. I worked with the surface of a box to symbolize the positivity and pride that people might see from trans-identifying people on “the outside” and the harsh reality of their lives (being killed, having political stances taken against them, discrimination, etc.) that people might not see or choose not to see on “the inside." My title for this piece asks why it is so wrong to be who you are. Apparently to the political groups fighting against them, finding your true identity and being able to present that to the world is a horrible, wrong thing to do.
In creating and showing this piece, I would like to stress that I am on the outside of this community and in writing my perspective on this situation, and making art regarding these situations, I am in no way trying to speak for the community and their feelings or opinions towards it. Although it is interesting being an outsider looking in, we must also respect, hear, and see the community and their side of the story. If there was ignorance in my observations or explanation, I apologize and encourage you to contact me and let me know how I can change this.
I do hope that this piece fulfills what my initial intentions were - provoking thoughts and inspiring respectful and important conversations.
This piece was shown in a student-curated exhibition in May 2019.