My wardrobe is reaching that elusive point where it feels almost done.
It will never be done, but the foundation is there and I think I can slow down with adding anything new for a while. This past week a few more basics were delivered. I got an Eileen Fisher simple black dress that needs to be altered to bring it just slightly above my knee. For some reason dresses that cover my knees make my body look way shorter and wider. I also received a vintage Jil Sanders button up shirt which I love, but it is slightly faded by sunlight in one small area. I’ll have to convince myself that I need to love its vintage imperfections and appreciate the “soul” in the garment.
This wintry Sunday morning, I’m at home thinking a lot about my next painting project. I wore this outfit as I walked around cleaning and thinking. Then it got cold so I put on this cropped sweater to stay warm.
In thinking about how I should approach my next paintings, I wanted to adapt the process to fit into my life. And create art that’s in line with my values and about concepts that I’m obsessed with. Naturally, I drew inspiration from my wardrobe and from the way millennials use information to drive their consumption.
First and foremost, I wanted to remove the barriers to painting. Why haven’t I painted in a long time? I thought about my wardrobe. Why didn’t I wear 80% of my wardrobe and got rid of most of it? Because it was full of styles that weren’t in line with who I am and my life today. I stopped painting for similar reasons: I have little time and the complicated cumbersome techniques I was used to made it impossible to paint with a full time job in a small NYC apartment.
I felt inspired by what Sara Blakely said on how she started Spanx. She did a ton of research to make it work. And she worked tirelessly to make it happen. So I thought, hey I can make painting happen again. I just need to change how I do it.
I did some research on how to use oil colors without any solvents like mineral spirits or turpentine. I want to create a non-toxic solvent free work environment and still work with oils. Sounds impossible but I think it can be done! I found some more inspiration from my wardrobe obsession: this idea that what enters your wardrobe should last a long time. I wanted the same for my paintings. I’m learning about how to make paintings last for centuries without discoloring or cracking. I’m learning how to seal wood properly and how to either eliminate or contain acids in the raw materials.
Lastly, as I’ve eluded to earlier, I’m experimenting with the idea of radical transparency in my work, so I’m keeping up with all the costs of the raw materials and the amount of labor I’m putting into everything so that I can incorporate that information into the work itself. I’m learning about a technique called alla prima, to paint something all in one go, one layer, wet on wet. I figured this would reduce the amount of labor that goes into each painting and make it much more feasible for me to complete projects. It also challenges me to be more deliberate and intentional with every stroke.
What else, oh I’m also learning about color mixing with a limited color palette of 4-5 colors, from which I can make an infinite amount of colors rather than relying on pre-mixed colors. This will also reduce production costs and give me more control over the chemicals that go into my paintings. I love the idea of being able to create lots of things from a limited palette, which is why I’ve restricted my wardrobe to neutrals for the most part. It gives me more to wear with a smaller number of parts.
Another barrier to painting for me is the need to wash dirty brushes. It is truly a pain in the ass and creates such a mess in the kitchen. I’m researching ways I can get away with never washing my brushes by dipping them in a combination of oils. This will reduce the amount of water used and reduce the amount of chemicals that goes down the drain too.
Anyway, there’s so much going on in my mind right now. I never thought I would be able to find so much inspiration from just getting dressed.
[outfit: Trademark ochre scallop top, Levi’s 501 ct jeans, Keds shoes, oatmeal colored wool socks from Vietnam, Cluse watch, Apiece Apart crop sweater]