for Frida

My first real taste of Mexico came when I was about 5 years old and our neighbor’s relative came to visit us from Puebla.  She brought me a sugar skull from the Dia De Muertos celebrations.  It was bright white and painted with flowery purple embellishments.  Despite my youthful sweet tooth, I was much more interested in preserving it as long as possible until it finally crumbled to pieces.  This gift was the beginning of my curiosity and appreciation of the way their culture of honors and celebrates the dead.

I remember the first time that I saw the Frida Kahlo art book that my dad had just purchased, and I explored it with a childlike curiosity wondering about the colorful woman with the exaggerated unibrow and her intense and emotional portraiture.  It was not a beauty that I was able to fully understand at such a young age, but I know the images certainly left an impression on me as they were quite unlike anything else I had ever seen.  Over time, my emotional response and appreciation for her colorful embellishments of her tragic life flourished, and I often revisited that book through the years. I eventually made a pilgrimage to her home, La Casa Azul, in Mexico City.  It was a journey devoted through and through to her lush, bold color palette, and I was inspired to wear the most colorful clothes I could find.  I wore a bold rust and teal dress with a petticoat to her house and bought bright scarves from the store there.  Me and my best friend delighted in posing in our very Frida-esque ensembles in her garden.

Taking these two great inspirations and combining them, I decided to celebrate Frida’s colorful symbolism and passionate lifestyle by dressing as her in sugar skull style with petal flourishes and bones bursting into bloom.

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zombify

Something I’ve been slowly getting really interested in is experimenting with makeup in more extreme ways.  This experimentation started to gain some depth last Halloween when I was using every chance I could get to try something outside of the norm.  This zombie look was for a zombie walk where a very large group of people get together and walk in a big zombie mob through the city.  It’s a fantastic idea and I was looking forward to doing my own take on zombification.  The creepy part was when the group disbanded and I ended up with my friend also in zombie makeup in the middle of the city.  Suddenly, outside of the group and by ourselves, we were a bit more conspicuous.  A few people seriously thought we’d just wandered off from an accident.  That might have been the most amusing part of the day.

For my makeup, I wanted to go for more of a freshly dead zombie with lots of crusty blood and sunken in features.  I ended up seeing my existing makeup differently.  I purchased some Ben Nye white cake makeup and the monster palette for the base, but I used a lot of matte eyeshadows, random eye pencils, and lots of various everyday makeup I have accumulated to flesh out the look.  I dusted off this really old Alice costume from American McGee’s Alice video game that I’ve had probably for about 10 years and added it into the mix.  It was somewhat convenient since I’d already put some blood stains on it years ago.

For the record, I wasn’t laying on anyone’s grave.  Those were oddly positioned on an elevated platform that happened to be the perfect height for a background.

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lacquer & watercolor: cattitude and chopsticking

Another color I have always really liked is OPI’s Chopsticking to  my Story from their spring 2010 Hong Kong collection.  It’s a bold rusty orange that treads the line between being richly saturated and somehow subdued enough to be warm and sophisticated and not overly vivid like orange has a tendency to be.  I feel a broad spectrum of colors from this shade and felt as if it is able to leak rusty brown that fades into yellow hues onto the paper.

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lacquer & watercolor: angora muse

In the process of trying to come with some new ideas for my site header, I was experimenting with the idea of combining my love of nail lacquer and watercolor.  I was considering using the polish itself to paint with and combine the viscous shiny lacquer with the thin translucencies of watercolor, but I ended up simply being inspired by the color of the polish itself and wanted to express the color through a mix of watercolor drips.

This left me with a combination of polish swatches and paint to share with you.  I selected a few of my more favorite cream finishes from my collection that I thought went well together.

First is Barielle’s Aura Angora from their 2010 fall The Style in Argyle collection.  It’s a golden mustard with hints of burnt rusty brown to it.  It’s one of those colors I don’t think is explored enough in the nail polish world.  I find a great brown-toned muted yellow like this can be very chic while being subdued and neutral.  I’d happily pair this color with many other colors which is why I chose it for this exercise.

It’s a shame that my fingers are showing up so pink as this color works well with my light olive coloring, but I think I was pressing my finger too hard against the paper to take a picture.  Oops.  Also, this polish is fully glossy despite the illusion of a matte tip.  That’s just an interesting side effect of reflecting the very textured matte paper.

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Americana

Another set of pictures wilting in the archives were of my Fourth of July manicure. For the holiday, I took a last minute trip to the Smoky Mountains and Nantahala River for some countryside views and relaxation along with a bit of outdoor activities.

I wanted to rejuvinate the classic red, white, and blue palette with a little bit of shimmer and flakie firework action.  The blue nails were Orly Royal Navy with two layers of China Glaze White Cap on top to serve as a play on the flag’s star field.  The red accent nail was China Glaze Ruby Pumps with Barielle Elle’s Spell on top for depth and fire.  I’m pretty sure I was rocking the high gloss Seche Vite top coat at this point in time as well.

Amusingly enough, the white cap polish had a deeper meaning as there were crests of swirling white on the river rapids…enough that they assisted in capsizing our small two person inflatable raft at the end of our river run.  I took these pictures after the incident while recovering from the adrenaline rush with an icy cold red, white, and blue themed American beer.  So the tipwear was probably a direct result of clawing at the upside-down raft that had flipped entirely on top of me while trying to assume a safe whitewater swimmers position to avoid getting bashed into rocks.  Considering there was minimal tipwear, I’m giving the polish performance a good grade.

I can’t say that I have ever really considered myself much of a “country girl,” but I have been out there before and I have really enjoyed my time there because there’s just a unique soul to the surroundings that I can appreciate.  This was outside of a quintessential river haunt, a shack called Pizza By the River which serves up some tasty pizza.  Most importantly, it serves it up where you can literally sit and eat it on the river rocks and wade your feet in the stream if you’d like.  They also have great little bonfires going in the evening as the river starts to kick up a thick mist on the surface.  Sometimes there seems to be banjo music drifting down the river as well that just makes the whole environment come together.

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coral & turquoise

I realize crackle polishes have long since snuck their way back into popularity and are already wiggling their way out for new trends, so we’re not going to discuss how old these pictures are.  On the other hand, I’m always going to love this color combination and these pictures may revitalize my joy in creating crackle color combos.

One of the few crackle polishes I broke down and purchased was China Glaze’s Crushed Candy.  I figured a pale turquoise blue color would look interesting with a variety of colors.  It is subdued enough that it will pair well with other soft colors or more happily pop with bright or darker colors.

The first time I wore it, I paired it over OPI’s Color So Hot it Berns, a bright warm one-coater red that reminds me of the color of certain coral.  I’ve always loved a pale, turquoise-tinged blue with a bright orange-toned red since they are both bright but in different ways so that they highlight each other.  When I was making jewelry more frequently, I often gravitated to turquoise with coral or amber, and that’s what came to mind when I decided to match these colors up in the way of nail polish.  The crackle did its thing perfectly, and I ended up really enjoying the accents of chartreuse and ruddy brownish red of the plants I happened to find outside.  I was additionally amused by the similar naturally cracked pattern of the reddish leaves as well.

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Thinking of Blu

An artform I’ve greatly enjoyed experimenting with lately is vector drawing.  There’s something I really enjoy about the tedious process of organizing and separating an image into colors.  It really forces you to make decisions since the style I’ve been using allows each section to be only one color, so you have to create the illusion of blending, shading, and highlighting with single color selections.

My most recent illustration was my betta fish, of course.  His name is BluBo which was an unintentional,  silly riff on the former betta fish named BoBo that ended up sticking.  It’s been interesting watching his colors change as he has aged.  He was once a very vivid and iridescent teal green with  some slight red accents, but he’s become deeper blue and the red is only visible in certain lights.  Even still, depending on the lighting his former green-tinged iridescence can still be perceived.

I poured a bunch of work into this illustration in a short amount of time because I wanted it to be incorporated into a valentine’s day card.  I’m still pleased with the way it came out, and I hope to work with a more dynamically colored image of him next time to keep studying his range of colors.

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