size: 10.6 x 13.8 inches / 270 x 350mm
medium: cut and torn washi and chiyogami paper on wood
I’ve often been asked why most of the artwork I create features weird and quirky creatures, spirits, or animals rather than, say, people. There are really a couple reasons for this.
The most basic is that I don’t actually sit down with the intention of drawing (when I sketch) beasts. In my mind I’m drawing a feeling or a complicated amalgamation of things that have been bouncing around inside my skull. In the act of translation from abstract idea to concrete paper, these odd shapes are born.
The second reason is more intentional. Our eyes are trained, through experience and genetics, to see anthropomorphic shapes and people everywhere. When we do see these “people”, we often empathize with them and want to feel a more personal connection. The first question on our lips is “Who is this, and what is their name?”. In much the same way that it can be difficult to see past a real person’s face to their interior motives, it can also be challenging to move past the painted portrait to recognize the concept underneath.
Recently, I’ve come to embrace this challenge and dabble with “portraiture” a bit more. The quotation marks are there because, at least so far, these have not been portraits of actual “people”. Like the non-homo sapiens in my work, these are more representations of natural forces, ideas, and emotions.
The Lady in Green, for example, is a woman, certainly. A woman who is growing in self-confidence and recognition of her own power. This growth manifests botanically, organically spreading, rising, and flowering. Even the paper used in her clothing is shot through with actual plants creating that beautiful play of light and dark greens.
The face and hands are from two layers of chiyogami paper. The top is a sakura blossom pattern – another call out to the natural world. Under that is a layer of gold – which, admittedly, I was afraid to commit to at first (fear is often a good sign when making art). Now, the way the light shifts and the face transforms as one walks past the piece is one of my favorite aspects.
Here are some details from the work (which in itself is one of my most detailed works):
Work-in-progress: white collar
Portrait of Lady in Green, framed
Finally, a quick page of sketches for a small piece which I’m working on right now. Enjoy!