The above before and after photos were taken in April of 2020 (left) and December of 2021 (right) and mark the challenge of completing the largest and most complex work in my I Believe in Ghosts series to date.
Work in process rose and lemon details with palettes from a new piece from my "I Believe in Ghosts" series.
"Title TBD," oil on linen, 34 x 28 inches (86 x 71 cm).
Here I've compiled detail photos of the head in "We Hunt the Doe" in order to show a glimpse into my process. The images progress from the development of the black and white "dead layer" through various color glazes to get to the final result.
Throughout my series, I Believe in Ghosts, I reference vanitas — 17th century Dutch still lifes — to draw on the tradition of sharing a moral lesson. Vanitas paintings present an array of objects as symbols to remind us of the transience and vanity of human existence and earthly possessions and pleasures. My modern interpretation of vanitas puts the female figure directly in the composition, exploring transience of innocence, value, and agency relating to female identity. I use symbolism and allusion to convey the tension between objectifying the female body and recognizing the rich interiority of the female subject.
Objects have histories, yet are unable to speak them — what does it really mean to treat women as objects?
Me and I and her and she all come together for a visual update on the evolution of I Believe in Ghosts.
Left to right:
We Hunt the Doe, oil on linen, 42 x 49 inches, work in progress
Ourself Behind Ourself, Concealed, oil on linen, 51 x 39 inches, July 2020
Minds Pass Minds Be They Occupied, 50 x 68 inches, oil on linen, work in progress
This is the third painting in my series, I Believe in Ghosts, and one of the pieces I've been most keen to paint. I've been vigorously working to cover the canvas and see the the image come to life at it's intended size. Work in progress, "We Hunt the Doe," oil on linen, 42 x 49 inches.
Victory! I've completed the first pass over this BIG canvas, aka the fourth painting in my series, I Believe in Ghosts, which simply means every surface now has paint on it. Next I will begin making corrections and refining what's on the canvas. Then it's on to color! Work in progress, oil on linen, 50 x 68 inches.
The beginnings of I Believe in Ghosts Portrait 4, title TBD.
If you visited my studio in Autumn 2018, you may recall my larger-than-life-sized self portrait, I Believe in Ghosts. It's a recent addition to my new body of work, Portraits of Self and Society, in which I juxtapose vulnerability with challenging social constructs. This self-portrait examines how the conflicted messages women receive about ourselves, our bodies, and our roles impacts our lives and shapes our experiences, expectations, and choices.
I'm eager to share that I recently received word from the National Portrait Gallery in London that I Believe in Ghosts, was selected for the final round of the 2019 BP Portrait Award!
Those who know say this is the most prestigious portrait painting competition in the world, representing the very best in contemporary portrait painting. Roughly 200 portraits are selected from thousands of submissions from all around the world for the final round of judging. These 200 portraits are then whittled down to about 50 portraits that will go on to exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery in June.
Elation from the good news delivered via email in the middle of the night morphed into adrenaline as I realized I had a little over two weeks to coordinate having a frame made, having a shipping crate made compliant with UK customs regulations, correctly filling out paperwork that will make or break my journey through UK customs, and actually shipping my portrait from Healdsburg to London, clearing customs and arriving at the venue before March 1. Easy peasy, right?
Frankly a lot of hard work and support by many local treasures went into readying I Believe in Ghosts for departure to London. My piece is currently in transit with FedEx Air Freight and I’ll be holding my breath until it lands in the UK and clears customs! Regardless of the final decision, It's a huge honor to have my work considered for the second year in a row, and very I'm grateful to be included.
To be continued...
Thank you to Glenn and Charly at Hammerfriar for an absolutely perfect frame made under absurd conditions! Thank you to Chris at John Annesley for a beautifully constructed, lightweight shipping crate. Thank you Skylark Images for the exceptional documentation of my work. Thank you Sally for your endless enthusiasm and support, and help wrapping “IBIG.” and lastly, thank you Byron for around the clock all inclusive love and support.
I Believe in Ghosts didn't continue on to exhibit in the 2019 BP Portrait Award show. However, I am really very happy to have had my work selected and considered two consecutive years for the final round of judging by the National Portrait Gallery in London ... not too shabby! Well done to all and a big congratulations to this years exhibitors.
Each January I paint a self portrait for my birthday. Meet your 2019 mer-goat.
I created this space to showcase my past work, chronicle my current projects, and share my inspiration.