My Studio, The Crime-scene
The Artist Zara McDaid
Zara is an artist and blogger and recently decided to make a new blog. She wanted a profile image that reflected her love of art & fashion. She needed something striking and captivating that reflected who she is as a person and as an artist.
I wanted to make some images for her that were in keeping with her style of artwork and fashion. I saw in her artwork bold graphic lines with pops of colour. Her brushstrokes are confident and her subjects classically stylish. Her fashionable ladies have received much praise but she also paints cityscapes that you’d love to take a stroll in. She is a beautiful looking woman and is always immaculately & fashionably presented herself. She’s elegant with a feminine style and underneath has a heart full of colours and of characters waiting to tell their stories on her canvases. I stared at a blank sheet and asked myself how to convey all this in one representational image?
After we talked and Zara told me about what she’d like to achieve I brainstormed and sketched up some ideas. At this point I scribble everything down and don’t reject any option no matter how impossible or outlandish. The filter and development is the next stage. I wanted to avoid current trends that would quickly date her image and to keep Zara as the focus of the image rather than her outfit. I narrowed down my ideas to achievable ones that I felt fit her brief. We met and talked about my suggestions & chose a few ideas Zara liked.
One idea was to photograph Zara & make it look like she was stepping into one of her own paintings. We put some paint on her feet and on the hem of her skirt so she would make multi-coloured foot prints to show her path. The image below is a mock up I made as an example (the painted element isn’t one of Zara’s)
For another idea, I made Zara a white tutu (as she couldn’t find the style of skirt in the shops) and we dripped and poured paint onto it and covered over the surrounding area like a crime scene so she could swish about and spatter paint everywhere. Zara was up for all of it and we all got totally carried away.
Then we added more paint, and then some more. Zara painted the floor in her own style and Michelle added some paint to Zara’s make up. Zara lay on the floor and I climbed up a ladder to shoot. From there it really looked like the scene of a kalidoscopic crime. We had great fun shooting and splashing and made a huge mess (thank goodness for massive plastic sheets). When the wheels came off and we were really letting loose with the paint, the make up artist Michelle Anderson really came into her own and was able to take Zara’s make up from a natural beauty look to riot of colourful brushstrokes. She was careful to keep the painting of Zara’s face in a brush stroke style similar to Zara’s own handiwork on the floor to make the overall look cohesive. We then literally poured paint straight from the bottle onto Zara so it dripped over her shoulder and down her arms as she sat elegantly on the floor trying not to laugh at the absurdity of the moment. Michelle and I have worked together many times before and you can read more about her creative genius here from my perspective or visit her own website where she’s far too humble about her greatness.
With Zara completely covered in paint from top to toe, I knew I had loads of different images for her to choose from. We finished up shooting and then Zara came back a few days later, (when she’d finally got the last traces of paint off,) to pick the image she thought would best represent her and her new blog. You can now visit Zara’s blog and see her beautiful artwork and read about her experience of our shoot together in her latest blog post.
The skirt, still covered in paint is now hanging on my studio wall. I really like it as an art piece in itself. Along the journey of creating Zara’s images I think it became a good representation of what I love to do. It reminds me to be creative, allow experiments, make a huge mess, share the brush, work hard and enjoy the process of creating as much as the end result.