"Beautiful Stranger" collection!

(surreal portraits of Korean men with dramatic facial features)

미술품을 기다리는 중...

"아름다운 이방인" 초상화!

(드라마틱한 얼굴 특징을 가진 한국 남성의 초현실적인 초상화)

내 마음은 한국에 있습니다. ❤


About the "Beautiful Stranger" project:

It might seem strange for an abstract artist to suddenly switch to portraits, so I want to share my thoughts that led me to this project. 

The idea for this project started with my artwork being compared to Jackson Pollock's works. I would get so depressed every time someone would tell me any of my paintings look like Jackson Pollock. My friend, Alicia would try to calm me, saying it's a compliment, but it didn't feel like a compliment. I was painting that particular technique, for two years before I ever heard of Jackson Pollock. When someone compliments my work, but then says it looks like a Jackson Pollock painting, they are implying my work isn't original. It diminishes everything authentic about me that went into that painting. Art galleries aren't interested in artists who paint like someone else, as they want you to have your own signature style, and for all your works to have cohesion. I eventually realized my artwork was never going to be seen as mine, but rather as something in the shadows of Jackson Pollock. I came to believe that because he was the first to paint in this style, he would always be viewed as the best. It was not only a competition I could never win, but a comparison I never wanted. 

Breaking away from abstract is one thing, but why portraits? I feel challenged by things that fascinate me, yet are beyond my abilities. I have "autism-related facial recognition deficit", so painting faces is a difficult challenge for me as an artist. The inspiration for painting portraits with a surreal twist, was inspired by South Korean dramatic actor, 이진욱. At the time I contacted 이진욱 in regards to this project, he was busy filming Voice3. I immediately thought of 이정훈, the bassist for South Korean rock band, Nell (넬)

Due to my facial recognition difficulties, I usually identify people by the sound of their voice or the movement of their mouth when they speak or sing. I first saw 이정훈 in a close-up view of him singing backup vocals in a Nell music video (The Trace) performing White Dwarf Star in 2008. 이정훈 was wearing dark sunglasses, which enhanced my focus on his mouth. When actor, 이진욱 was temporarily unavailable, I went looking for photos of 이정훈 online. I laughed, and then cried. His mouth was closed in all the photos, and he wasn't wearing sunglasses in any of the photos, so I couldn't recognize him! I wasn't even sure I had the right person, but he looked like an interesting subject to paint, so I looked for him on Instagram. I did have the right person! In each photo he looks like a different person to me, causing me to clench my jaw and shake my head in frustration. After 이정훈 accepted my request to paint his portrait, he sent me a selfie for a reference photo, bearing an intense Scorpio-impish smirk that I felt challenged to capture in the portrait. 

I looked at 이정훈's photo day and night, obsessively tracing the intricacies of his features with my eyes, trying to figure out how to paint something so obscure to my eyes as a human face. All I could think about is, if I didn't accurately capture the authenticity of his smirk, the whole portrait would be ruined. That smirk was everything, and I don't know how to paint faces. I started to panic. Why did I choose such an impossible project? Why did I involve other people making it impossible for me to change my mind or give up? I became depressed, feeling like there was no way out. You know what they say, "the only way out, is through". I had to do this project, but I knew my work had to be perfect yet unique to matter. Looking at the photo 이정훈 had sent me, I knew the only way to achieve the level of perfection his smirk deserved, was to learn how to paint hyper-realistic portraits. (aka photo-realistic)

I have many disabilities and limitations. This project was absolutely beyond my abilities. Everything I read about how to paint hyper-realistic portraits was adamant the technique required patience, and should only be attempted by patient artists. Guess which virtue I lack. Patience isn't something I could just simply learn, so I felt doomed. As a splash and splatter abstract artist, I hadn't used paintbrushes in years. To make this feat more challenging; I have double vision in one eye, blurry vision in the other eye, arthritis in my hands, and an attention span so short it borders on useless. Struggling to watch portrait tutorials was causing me anxiety, as I could only watch three to nine minutes at a time. Getting nowhere frustrated me. I knew I couldn't give up or quit. I paused to go through the how's and why's of this project, desperately trying to figure out how I got here, and how to get to the other side, meaning a finished surreal hyper-realistic portrait of this beautiful stranger. How did I get here? I set the bar too high for myself as per usual. Why am I insecure? Because this project is beyond my ability. Am I doing all I can to succeed? No, I'm doing all I can to get out of it, without it being my fault. That was the moment I stopped sabotaging my project, and did everything I could possibly think of to learn what I needed to, and practiced constantly, day and night for two months. I practiced in acrylics and oils, going back and forth deciding at which was I more adept. Some nights I didn't even go to sleep, painting for 24-36 hours straight with no breaks. At some point I had to start using tiger balm on my hands and wearing wrist braces, because my hands were in unbearable pain and my wrists were fatigued. I would drink coffee at all hours just to get through a few minutes of portrait painting tutorials. I had to do whatever it took to succeed at this project. Maybe I involved other people in this project so I would be accountable, whereby forcing me to succeed.

The portrait below, of my daughter, Jessamine, is my first practice portrait. It's not hyper-realistic, but it is a promising step in the progression of my artistic abilities. 

Updates regarding this project will be announced on my Instagram at @kristenbrownartist

Estimated release dates for surreal hyper-realistic portraits:

Musician: 이정훈 by August 2019  

Actor: 이진욱 by TBA

Actor: 우도환 TBA

Actor: 이동욱 TBA

Follow updates on Instagram

My first practice portrait: Jessamine

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한국 음악, 영화, TV!