In my Zoomorphics series, I am painter, performer, and photographer.
Before painting on myself, I make preparatory sketches in a variety of media, including paint on paper and digital drawing.
Then, to transform myself, I apply professional-grade face and body paint, cosmetic glitter, and hair color spray. I paint in front of two mirrors, a tabletop mirror (for detail work) and a full-body mirror. Once painting is complete, I have become a new creature, and assume the poses and expressions of that creature for the camera. I shoot most of my photographs in my studio, in front of solid-color cloth backdrops. My camera, an Olympus mirrorless 4/3, is mounted on a tripod, and controlled wireless by my iPhone.
Because I only have one afternoon or evening to get the shot before I have to wash the painting off, I often take hundreds of photographs, to ensure I got the right one. This process of painting on myself, performing, and photographing can take up to eight hours.
It’s an exciting moment when I view the photographs on the computer for the first time and find the one that just works. It usually provokes a visceral reaction, moving me to smile, laugh, or stare. And in that moment, I see for the first time exactly what this creature is that I have created, how all the different parts of my process brought it to life.
Featured below is video of me transforming myself live at the Arlington Center for the Arts's Blue Jean Ball VIP Reception, in April 2022. Video by Nancy Nichols, with guitar by Chris Brenne.