Sunday, 24 May 2015

Painting The Tattooed Lady

The Tattooed Lady has landed! Friday night saw the launch of HOME's opening exhibition The Heart Is Decietful Above All Things where my art work got her first airing. I am very pleased to say she is a big hit and throughout the night people were getting covered in my tattoo transfers depicting tales of love and regret! To see more photos from the private view and maybe spot yourself sporting a tattoo visit this project's facebook page.

I had wanted to keep most of the details about how The Tattooed Lady would look under wraps until the show, so now that she is up and running I thought I'd share with you the painting process of the tattooed lady herself who appears on the machine.

From the start I knew I wanted her to have a 1920/30's look, not quite flapper girl but moving away from the belle epoque. I trawled through my books about vintage Hollywood and fashion and also began to search the internet to find the right face. The face was very important because as this entire project was inspired by tales of love and regret I wanted the lady to have a hint of melancholy.

I very nearly settled on an image of Gloria Swanson looking dashing in a gypsy headscarf but then I stumbled across a tiny black and white image of a beautiful unknown vintage lady with just the right look in terms of period but also with the most lovely pensive expression that held a hidden story of its own.

So began the design for the painted panel: I kept the lady's shoulders and neck bare in order to show off the tattoos she would be covered in and then built up an art deco style pattern around her that would allow me to comfortably fit in the text I wanted: LOVE, REGRET and BECOME A LIVING WORK OF ART. This last phrase was inspired by the posters I'd seen advertising real tattood ladies who were marketed as living exhibitions, a curious idea to our modern minds but one I really enjoy!


Once I was happy with the design I began to paint and here's how that process went:

I painted this image directly onto a wooden panel and found that the wood acted very differently to the canvas I am used to. It tended to suck up the paint (even after several layers of primer) which made blending more time consuming. However once I'd layerd up enough paint it began to react much better and take the colours and consistency.

I chose tattoos that would look both simple and striking and fit the shapes of the lady's shoulders, neck and chest

All inked up!

Here is the lady sitting where she was intended in the machine. You can go an visit her and bag yourself a tattoo transfer to boot between now and 26th July at HOME!

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