so i’ve been busy over here in the outdoor studio (otherwise known as my backyard), despite the rollercoaster weather. a few weeks back, i decided i wanted to start doing more stencil portraits, of pop culture icons, local (s)heroes, and yes, even pets. i know it’s crowded field – artists doing paintings of people’s pets – but i frankly don’t know anyone at least in new orleans who is doing stencil spray paint/urban folk-pop art style stuff. so i figured i’d give it a shot.
the above piece is my first attempt at doing a cat. my cat, specifically. sticker is his name, but my friend nita calls him mr. toes because he’s one of those hemingway cats (polydactyl) with extra toes all over the place. he has big mitten feet, and he’s a tubby, not very coordinated, princessy feline with a lot of character. i love him dearly. it was challenging trying to get a good one-color stencil that captures his unique look, but i think i pulled it off. after shooting about a hundred photos of him, i found one that worked well as a stencil, even though it didn’t include his funny feet.
about a year ago on one of my daily walks around the neighborhood, i salvaged four small weathered cabinet doors from a rotting set of cabinets on the curb out for the trash. i just really liked their look, and they’ve been sitting in my shed ever since, waiting for just the right project to come along. so when i did the first portrait in the series – frida kahlo (yes, i know she’s overplayed, but i’ve been a fan of hers since the early 80s and looking back through books of her work actually did help get me out of my funk, so i thought she deserved to be the first portrait i tried in this new style) – after testing it out on a scrap piece of plywood, i just jumped right in on one of these cabinet doors and started to play. i think it turned out pretty cool:
i love how using the cabinet doors makes it look like a readymade, already-framed piece of art. and gives it that folk-art feel. i had originally envisioned making mixed media pieces, putting various paper items as a background that would then be painted over such that parts of the print peeked out of the paint blasts… but i just spontaneously started making this one and decided i didn’t want to wait for all that mod podge to dry (usually takes overnight) so i just went with layering paint and design motifs. and this is what i ended up with.
i also did another rachel maddow piece, because, well, i’m obsessed. clearly. those of you who’ve been following me for a while know that i did a bunch of rachel maddow pieces a year or two ago that were really labor-intense 7-layered stencils. while it was a really good challenge and fun to do, once the stencils started deteriorating, i quickly realized i didn’t really want to keep recutting 7 different layers of facial features over and over again. i was able to make about 4 small canvases and a handful of prints on paper with them, but decided that was it for that particular incarnation of rachel maddow in stencil form. so this time, i chose a different picture to work from that was easy to turn into a one-layer stencil. whew.
so that’s 3 out of the 4 cabinet doors. not sure what i will do with the 4th, though i’m considering doing my other cat, the mighty hunter, stencil. but after playing around with the photos i took of him recently, i’m realizing it’s going to be much harder to do. as an all-black cat, it’s hard to create a one-layer stencil that isn’t just a silhouette – that actually gives him some dimension and features. but i’m going to keep playing with it. he’s already jealous of sticker because he has the extra-toes thing going on – i don’t want to slight him, you know? i love him just as much!
so yeah. that’s what i’ve been up to. i’ve also been making a bunch of love signs and posting up more stuff on my etsy site – valentine’s is coming up soon. but i’m hoping this new direction with the stencil portraits ends up being something i can market and turn into some steady income soon.
let me know what you think.