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Taylor Lemke- Painting

two portrait paintings by Taylor Lemke in yellow brown tones

Shown: Vulnerability (left and right), 2022

As an artist I have always been impressed by accurate self-portraits and have always wanted to create one myself. In the past I have attempted and failed and would be left with what appeared to be a painting of someone else. I struggled with proper proportions and understanding facial anatomy, along with other developing artistic skills such as local and reflective color, and accurate lighting and cast shadows. I dedicated my efforts into improving these skills for my BFA exhibition and am delighted with the progress that I have made thus far.  

In the early stages I stuck to colors I felt comfortable with such as reds, yellows, and warm earth tones. In my more recent works, I began experimenting with a fuller color palette to give more complexity to my paintings. Not wanting to ignore my intuitive artistic preferences, I kept warm tones consistent in my works but being sure to incorporate more greens and purples as well. Upon researching further into color theory and color palettes I came across the Zorn’s color palette and I have been experimenting with this lately. This palette was used by a Swedish painter during the late 1800’s named Anders Zorn who used vermilion or cadmium red, ivory black, yellow ochre, and white. When mixed, these colors will give a full, yet earthly-dull, color palette which resembled the colors I had already been using, and I plan to continue using this palette in my future works as well.  

Not only did this series of work open me up to new painting techniques and skills, but it also made me hyper aware of my lack of understanding of myself. My sense of self always felt disconnected; often I feel as if I’m floating behind my body or simply detached from it. My life experiences have caused me to disconnect, in a way to protect myself, and switch into survival mode to ensure I complete my needed daily tasks. This has resulted in me not remembering years of my life, but now also having a hard time remembering what I did this morning. By sitting myself down and starring into a mirror, or an image of myself, I have reconnected my brain to my body. I am more aware of how I am feeling and what I am thinking throughout my day. This series has grounded myself back into my body, has helped me understand what my own face truly looks like, and has brought me back into fully experiencing the present moment.  

Although each portrait is of myself, they all embody different personalities. Each painting feels like its own individual person; they feel like a group of people rather than being just one person. I find it interesting how these paintings took on their own uniqueness somewhat on their own. Influenced by my mood for that day, or whatever was on my mind that week, these portraits took on a life of their own and I wouldn’t always know how they would turn out after each painting session. I allow my artwork to freely breathe in this way, and I refrain from boxing them into a specific sketch or set image. Multiple ideas and feelings came together for each portrait, and I am forever grateful and proud to now have this body of work.  

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