Brand New Me

As a young girl, I looked up to Alicia Keys and still continue to admire her regal elegance, talent, beauty, and heart of gold - so why wouldn't she be my favourite subject to paint? I certainly have near future plans to paint her for a series of oil paintings. 

Although a little apprehensive at first, in order to develop my oil painting technique, I needed to challenge myself with this piece. My first time painting Alicia Keys required me to step out of my comfort zone of the regular 8x8" canvas size I was accustomed to at the time. The painting process took me on a treacherous but rewarding journey.  

First stage of my Alicia Keys 'Lellow Fire' oil painting

First stage of my Alicia Keys 'Lellow Fire' oil painting

'LellowFire' was created back in October 2012 and then latter turned into handmade earrings. The image that I chose to paint was Alicia Keys' twitter profile picture at the time. I felt that in this photo her hair was almost resembled the mane of a lion. It signified strength and power and this all tied in with the theme of her recently released 'Girl on Fire' album.

When painting any face, I like to focus on the facial features, in particular the eyes. Eyes are the one feature which never change as a person matures. In all my paintings, I feel if that the eyes do not look correct, overall likeness can not be achieved.

During the second stage I wanted to work on shading the nose and cheek areas. Also, at this stage I needed to roughly sketch out (with my paintbrush) where her hair was going to be. This helped me to correct the proportions of her face in the next stage.

Second stage of 'Lellow Fire'

Second stage of 'Lellow Fire'

Honestly, during this stage of the painting, I lost focus and had to take a break for a week. Sometimes I can spend so long intensely looking at the same image that it all simply becomes a blur and soon enough, frustration reigns supreme. Also, I must say that I often find it hard to see things in their simpler shape and form. To overcome this, I find blocking in areas with colour helps me to envision how the final piece will look.

Upon returning to my painting with refreshed eyes, I noticed that Alicia's face was far too long and that her jawline should be further up. This is the part of the painting which I struggled with the most but I knew that inevitably, I would have to persevere with it.For the background I chose a fiery orange colour, to again, tie in with the GOF concept and also compliment Alicia's scarlet lips.

Third stage of 'Lellow Fire'

Third stage of 'Lellow Fire'

I am proud of the end result and this piece is easily one of my favourites. During Alicia's Set the World on Fire Tour I was even lucky enough to hand my painting to her backing singers after her concert here in Manchester. They kindly asked me whether I wanted Alicia to sign it or if I wanted her to keep it. Obviously I chose the latter and never heard the end of it from everyone that I later told lol. But in retrospect, what was I ever going to gain by a signed painting hanging on my bedroom studio wall forever? I would probably have never learnt to let go of my paintings and thus would never have became an artist.

Final oil painting of Alicia Keys titled 'Lellow Fire'

Final oil painting of Alicia Keys titled 'Lellow Fire'