Okay so that's a terrible play on words to introduce my newest artwork post! But hey, it works! I've been so busy working on a plethora of custom artworks this week, but I've finally managed to find a spare moment to make my latest 'Frida Kahlo X Dior' artwork into an art print. YAY!
I decided to work on a special piece to celebrate International Women's Day a few weeks ago now, featuring the ultimate feminist, Frida Kahlo. I've been a huge fan of her work and personal story after discovering her emotional folk style Mexican art during high school back in England, many many years ago now. She is best known for her self-portraits, pain and passion, and bold, vibrant colors. However she is also known for being one of the ultimate feminist icons of all time...and for good reason. She defied stereotypes; smoking, boxing, winning tequila challenges against men, and even dressing like a man at times in family portraits. She refused to alter her masculine features, including her famous monobrow, and even exaggerated them. However she also embraced her felinity by decorating her hair with flowers, and wearing bold colorful dresses. LOVE. Who said you can't wear no make-up and look a little disheveled, whilst wearing pretty flowers in your hair?!
Frida painted REAL women and REAL experiences, something which us feminists today embrace and encourage. Showing the real you...not just the you that glossy magazines and society in general expect you to be. She suffered a great deal during her life, contracting polio at a young age, suffering from spina bifida, and then miraculously surviving a horrendous car accident that left her severely injured, enduring a lifetime of surgeries. But despite this, she completely defied her destiny as a victim.
She broke the rules , both in her art and in her personal life. For this, we love her! She is a true inspiration for women today...embracing weirdness, rebelling against the norm and embracing her true self.
I wanted to portray Frida in a modern way, bringing her into the 21st century to show that we still look to her for inspiration today, over 60 years after her death. I've been obsessing over Dior's swoon-worthy 'We Should All Be Feminists' t-shirt from the moment I saw it in their Spring RTW show back in September and instantly knew I should show her wearing this. I seriously got so excited about this idea that I stayed up until 3am on the morning of International Women's Day, desparately trying to finish this in time!
Anyway, I hope you love it. More importantly I'd like you to know that a portion of the proceeds from the total sales of all Frida x Dior art prints, plus the original mixed media artwork, will go to the WOMANKIND WORLDWIDE international women's rights charity. They help to transform the lives of women and girls that face discrimination, poverty and violence around the world. Please follow the link to learn more about the amazing work that they do. www.womankind.org.uk
Below are some of the progress shots to show the steps leading up to the finished artwork. Please let me know what you think. xo
My favorite thing to draw is hair. I just love it. Sometimes it can literally take DAYS to finish...but despite this, its still my fave! Braids in particular are so fun to work on...mainly because they're broken up into small sections which makes it easier and less daunting to tackle, and look they look gorgeous! So Frida was definitely an enjoyable project to work on due to her having some of the most amazing and famous braids of all time. I used a combination of HB, 3B and 6B Derwent Graphic and Faber Castell Goldfaber graphite pencils for this.
For many of my portraits I like to start with the eyes. They really bring a person to life if you draw or paint them perfectly...with a glimmer of light to make them come alive. However for Frida I was way to excited to draw her hair, that I actually started with that! Next up were the eyes and INCREDIBLE eyebrows. OBSESSED.
For the face I used a mixture of lighter pencils, mainly HB, 2H and 4H...although sometimes my 4H pencils seem to be a little too 'scratchy' in texture. I used smooth Bristol paper for this, as I like to get a really sleek blended result with the graphite on this. I struggle because I LOVE how the graphite looks on Bristol Paper, but painting with watercolors on it is such a challenge. Let me know if you have any tips for solving this problem!
I wanted to add in a few quirky modern accessories to this piece, so switched out Frida's original overt antique jewelry, to an awesome J'ADIOR ear cuff, earring and a bold statement charm necklace by AMBUSH. I loved mixing in this AMBUSH necklace, as their jewelry is gender neutral and genre-defying...just like Frida.
Adding watercolor paint for the bright pops of color in Frida's floral headpiece.
I loved that by working on bristol paper that wasn't specifically designed for watercolor paints. It forced me to speed up my technique to ensure that the paints didn't dry before blending each of the colors together in the flowers...resulting in a more looser abstract style. Which I think looks cool off of the more realist style graphite pencil for the face and hair.
For the t-shirt graphic, I decided to experiment with a looser sketchier technique using PIGMA micron archival ink pens. I like how this recreated the vintage faded style technique that the original tee slogan looks like. Using the black pen also makes the feminist statement pop too...which is always a good thing. Lastly I added in some grey and blue/grey watercolor tones to highlight creases and shadows on the jersey t-shirt.
Both the original mixed media artwork (19" x 24") on paper, as well as various sized prints are now available in my shop! Feel free to send me a message with any special size or product requests. xo