The Portraits Collection emerged while I was working on the Color Letters Collection. I wanted to use the same color pallet but in a very different way. I was approaching the big 3-0, and that particular change in digits felt big like I was about to embark on a new life journey and I wanted to capture and savor the decade that was my adventurous 20s.
I decided to do a series of colorful self-portraits that would represent a year or phase I went through in my 20s. Painting these portraits evolved into a visual walk down memory lane that allowed me to remember places I had traveled, people I had met, adventures I have taken, and personal lessons learned. I believe that it is important to process and honor your past, so you can fully enjoy the present and by the time I finished the portrait series I felt more excited about starting a new decade.
When it comes to my work, I’ve been known to hold myself to self-imposed and unrealistic levels of perfection. (Where are my enneagram 3’s at?) Somewhere along the way, I convinced myself that everything I produced had to be done “correctly” (as if there even is a correct way with art?). Until about five years ago, I struggled in my own work to venture past the comfortable boundaries that came with projects commissioned by my clients. This collection is one of the first series that I painted completely for myself. I remember thinking how incredible it was to feel that free in my work all the time and to be able to truly express myself in this way. I believe that you can see elements of that confidence and excitement starting to peek through in each of these images in the Portraits Collection and I'm happy to share them with you.
Ruby is curious, wild, free and up for anything. I was 22 years old and living in New York City. I had no restrictions, no fears, no bedtimes, and nothing but new adventures ahead. I rode the subway, walked miles to meet up with friends, went to art galleries, danced, met people from all around the world, ate raw food, embraced the grunge movement, wore flowy clothes and had the time of my life every day of the week. I loved my job and met fascinating people who introduced me to the magic randomness of the city.
Emerald is the embodiment of imagination and creativity! I was 23 and had just started design school in Atlanta. I felt like I was finally in the right place at the right time. College, for me, had been a pretty bland educational experience, but at design school, my imagination went through the roof. My creativity capacity was pushed way out of the box, and my workload was heavier than I ever thought possible - and I loved it! I felt so comfortable in that environment. I was able to meet other designers from all over who became like family. It was during this time period that I fully embraced becoming an artist and designer.
Beauty, grace, and gratitude are what I see in Sapphire, and she is actually the first self-portrait I created for this series. I felt a sense of peace at age 27, that I had never known before. When I began dating Scott, he helped me understand on a deeper level that it’s okay to not be “perfect” and to know that my feelings were valid, important and normal. He gave me room to be imperfect. Sapphire represents a sense of strength within myself where I was able to find peace with who I was meant to be. I also became more confident in who I was becoming as a woman and an artist. That was a year of big changes for me, I moved to Nashville and Scott and I eventually became engaged!
Opal is an expression of the time in my life where things started to come together and make sense. I was 28 when I married Scott and knowing that I was going to spend life with my soulmate was empowering. I felt clear, calm, peaceful, and sometimes even like I was on cloud nine! If someone would have told me all those years ago that the man I would marry was one of my best guy friends from 7th grade? I would have never believed them! I had a deepening relationship with God, and in turn, a bright, singing heart. Opal is dressed up much like I was on my wedding day and represents the way I felt as I entered that chapter in my life. I had learned to stand firm in who I am while being able to acknowledge where I came from and also felt ready for whatever the future holds too.
These ladies also taught me how to paint in a new way. My new process started with gathering as many moments from my past -- good and messy -- and then I would just start laying them out on the canvas, one brushstroke at a time. I let my feelings do all the work and let them guide the process. I just picked the paint colors and kept allowing my hand and the brush to move freely around the page.
I would love for other young women to see themselves in these portraits. Even though they came from my own experiences, I hope that the color and love put into each one of the Portraits Collection pieces will evoke more confidence in who you are and who you are meant to become.