So back in December, while I was in the middle of doing Airacha's Van Gogh colored hair, I had an idea. I wondered how hard it would be to actually paint Starry Night - the painting - onto some hair. I thought it might be fun to try painting on hair instead of a canvas (for everyone needing a reason why I do anything). So the next day, I started working on painting it onto a hair weft (a thin slice of hair like that used for certain types of extensions) to see if I could work something out.
The original weft I started on was too thick, and I realized I needed a thinner weft, so I purchased one. Then I got distracted by the idea of doing other paintings on the thinner hair, and I neglected my Starry Night project in favor of trying out The Scream, by Edvard Munch and La Reve, by Picasso. And they actually came out...pretty okay. And it was surprisingly fun to do; I started to really enjoy myself once I worked out a few kinks.
I wanted to keep going, but got sidetracked by other stuff happening for a little bit. When the Fine Art series went viral, there were more than a few commenters who responded to poorly worded headlines on the subject with statements like, "I thought I was going to see actual artwork on the hair" or "These are just the colors from the paintings, not the ACTUAL paintings" (yeah, no duh, but I'm not the one who wrote the headlines suggesting otherwise, am I?). I wanted to point out that I was actually working on exactly what they were complaining about, but figured I ought to do a few more before I put them out. Plus, who cares about what gripey commenters want? I also wasn't sure how well they'd turn out, and didn't want to promise something I couldn't deliver.
So I continued playing around with the idea, discovering that it was a bit trickier than I originally thought. I spent a lot of time looking through art books and thinking about what sorts of things I like to paint, trying to decide what would be the most fun and interesting to do.
*Side note: I don't think my own original art is terribly interesting to anyone but me, and my best skill set lies in realism/photorealism - which basically means I'm good at copying things. So that's why I felt like it was more fun and interesting to reproduce other artists' stuff. My own art is mostly for me or people I'm very close to. No, I don't do commissions. No, I don't sell my own art. If you get art from me, it's because it burst out of my brain specifically for you and I wanted you to have it. Which is also why I don't have a thriving career as an artist.
When I mentioned to a friend that I was considering a Kandinsky reproduction, he thought I was being too ambitious. So then of course I HAD to do it. Then he suggested that I do a Rothko, since he was a fan, and so I encouraged him to pick one out for me to do. And then it just kind of kept moving forward. So now I have completed several, and am working on a couple more, and have ideas for a few more that I haven't started yet. I think I'll work on them till I get bored.
I honestly haven't painted this much in years, and it feels good to be productive, even if it's on a silly project like this one. I've also learned a lot about each artist and their style in the process of doing the paintings, and that has been a cool and unexpected side effect; I feel more appreciative of their work and process now. Some of the pieces I tried to copy as closely as possible, some I took some creative liberties with. For instance, it wasn't practical for me to place all the red dots on the Lichtenstein(?) as close together as they are in the original, as the red dye would have likely bled all over the damn place and it would have looked sloppy. And I started "Starry Night" from memory, as I've painted it numerous times, and so the composition is off a bit, although I ultimately corrected a lot of it. Some of the pieces I did a very basic sketch or outline and then worked from that, but for a couple, like the Kandinsky, I did my own full reproduction on paper first and then used that to work from.
I used actual hair color; mostly direct dyes but I did use permanent colors a few times for specific effects. I used multiple lines, including Manic Panic, Kenra, Joico, Redken, Rusk, Pravana, Ion, Adore, and Arctic Fox. I typically watered them down a little, and then applied them to blonde hair with a paintbrush (mostly sable, like the same ones you use for painting anything else). I freehand them - no projectors and NO STENCILS. I lay a drawn or painted mock up underneath to sort of "trace" it - but like I state above, I've drawn or painted the mockup myself.
That's it. That's my process.
In this case, I thought I was working on a Lichtenstein, but my research has not yielded whether or not this was actually one of his pieces. Regardless, I finished it anyway and liked the outcome. Does anyone know the original source for this? If so, you might mention it in the comments and post a link to your source, please and thank you.
I am not much of a Mark Rothko fan, per se, although I respect what he did for non-representational art and I can appreciate his attempt at painting emotional states in a non-literal fashion. One of my good friends, however, IS a fan, and requested that I do this one on some hair (Blue and Gray, 1961). It was actually kind of fun trying to get that silvery gray color - it took me about 3 tries with demi-permanent color to get the tone where I wanted it - and I like that this has almost an editorial feel to it. So, thank you friend-who-wishes-not-to-be-named! This was still challenging and interesting to do, which of course I always enjoy.
Ok, so this one is obviously The Scream, by Edvard Munch. This is the first one that I tried to complete, although I didn't have much of a technique down for precision just yet.
I kept reworking it and reworking it, struggling to portray the details without completely filling the whole damn thing in with black and orange. Which proved to be difficult.
At this stage, I was almost just ready to chuck this piece and start completely over on another piece of hair. I just felt like I could do it better, especially since I had been working on other pieces in the meantime and had figured out better ways to paint sharper lines.
UGH. This damn thing. This one was really hard. But I love Van Gogh - LOVE HIM - so I had to do it.
Second, I will probably also get other photos; this one was the first one I put in hair, and I honestly had no idea where to start or what to do with it - I was just sort of winging it. I've since straightened out and cleaned up that bottom edge, now I just have to...I dunno. Something. So. We will call this one a work in Progress.
This is Picasso's "La Reve". I chose it both for the colors and the easily identifiable style. I am still deciding what hair it will look best on, but it is completed for the most part. The upper left sketch was what I worked from on this one; I pulled it up on my computer monitor to get the color scheme down. I ultimately ended up adding more black lines than the original painting has because I had a tough time getting the edges of the shapes to show clearly against each other. I was still working out my technique when I finished this one, so the lines are not as sharp as I would like, and my black color bled a little bit because I wasn't as careful with my rinsing as I should have been. However, I'm not planning on redoing it; I have already moved on from this one.
So of course I had to do a Warhol. I love his Marilyn portraits, and this one kicked my butt. Her face was very difficult - the individual parts of it were so small and detailed that I was not able to reproduce them as well as I would like, and so she's not quite perfect. I also did it a bit like Warhol would have - I did each color in its own respective section, like you would for screen printing, and then ultimately went back over it with black to fill in. And then it matched my neon rainbow extensions really well, so that's what I modeled it with.
I've got a few more I'm working on, and a few more I'd like to do. So I will update this post with new developments as they happen.
Also, thank you to my models - Shelby, Katie, and Tessa. They are all existing clients of mine, and generously donated their time and hair for this project simply to indulge me, and also because they are awesome friends. I'd have no career to speak of without them!
I love Georgia O'Keeffe's poppy paintings - actually, I love almost all of her paintings where she uses reds and/or oranges, because the colors are so fantastic. So I did a quick mockup of my own in watercolor, for scale, and used that as my foundation to paint on the hair. I actually ended up using this for a social media campaign to advertise a new color line for the brand Matrix, so this was done with demis, which are oxidative color and not what I typically use. I usually stick with semi permanent color, which is more like paint and what you see is what you get. With a demi, there is a bit of a trick to formulating the color to get this variety of tones, so it was a learning experience for me. The texture of this color out of the tube is a bit different as well and presented some challenges as far as "painting" goes.
Had to do an homage to Mondrian. This one was actually very difficult. Getting those straight lines and keeping the hair white without getting black all over it was tedious and nerve-racking. I spent considerably more time agonizing about putting those lines down than I spent actually painting them. This one probably took me the longest out of all of them, and I reworked it a couple of times too, just to keep it as clean looking as possible. I had originally planned on having someone with matching dark blue hair model it (and may still), but also liked the idea of adding some contrast with the lighter blue overall color.
For something a little different, I decided to give Banksy a shot. I tend to really like most of his stuff, but the bigger challenge here, for me anyway, was the simplicity. I wanted to see if I could make it work without having to fall back on color to make it eye catching. Being such a detail junkie who easily and happily will overwork everything, this presented a unique issue for me: it only took a few minutes to paint, and then it was done. My brain didn't know what to do with that, and I hemmed and hawed about it at my desk after it was completed, wondering if it needed "more". It took a tremendous amount of self-restraint for me to stop here, but I'm glad I did - I think it makes a pretty good impact as-is. Plus, it got me another nomination in the Behind the Chair magazine one shot awards, so that's cool.