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  • Writer's pictureMadeleina Kay

Intersectional Identities in Oil Pastels

I created these oil pastel drawings of Lora, Redi and Kristyna who are participating in my MA Research Project into intersectional identities.

The three oil pastel drawings were created from some of the photographs from which I have been creating sketches and watercolour artworks. The aim of these oil pastel drawings is that they are a "draft" desig for a larger oil paintings in the same style. Because I am intending these oil paintings to be "final outcomes", I chose my favourite photographs of the three of them to work from which express their personality and character in a compelling way. The focus of these oil paintings will be their facial expression, so the images are cropped to include their head and shoulders only.

I started off with Redi's drawing. Redi asked me to use the colours; blue, green, brown and grey - to evoke the imagery of landscapes where he has had the most positive, memorable experiences. He also told me that he loves blue eyes, so I made sure he had at least one in this artwork! I enjoyed making this drawing, it is in a style which I am very comfortable with since I have created many portrait artworks in this style and medium. The process begins by mapping out the facial features in pencil, the dissecting the face into chapes. I especially enjoyed tracing the waves and curves of Redi's hair and beard - trying to translate it into simplified shapes. I've learned from practicing and refining this style that it benefits from having at least six colour schemes for the shapes to create sufficient contrast and variation. Since Redi only gave me 4 colours, I created two colour schemes for both the blue and green shapes, as well as introducing a flesh colour, which isn't too far off brown. I used the darker colour schemes primarily for his hair, and the lighter colour schemes for his skin and shirt.

The next oil pastel drawing I made was of Kristyna. The colours I used were; red, pink, purple, blue, green and grey. Kristyna wasn't 100% sure when choosing her colours, so I wanted to create this design and then double-check she is happy with the colours or if she wants any of them changing for the final oil painting. In this image the distinction between hair and skin isn't so clear - and this may be less impactful. I introduced the grey/white colour scheme because in the photograph she is wearing a white shirt.

Lora, on the other hand, was very clear about which colours I needed to use - her trademark colours; hot pink, purple, neon yellow/green and black. Unfortunately I didn't have a black oil pastel, so I had to make do with grey tones, but I intend to include black in the final oil painting. In the photograph, Lora is wearing star-shaped earrings which I gave to her for Christmas the previous year and I think the star-shapes worked really well with the dissecting, cubist shapes which form the portrait. The reason why I think this style is so appropriate for the project, is that individuals with intersectional identities, often feel othered by communities which are a part of their identity. As such, they have to "break free of the mould" and reconstruct their identity from the constiuent parts of the multiple communities which have made them who they are. My artworks aim to celebrate these complex, intersectional identities in vivid colours which represent their personality and character. Lora's colour scheme was the trickiest to work with, since their is the greatest contrast between the colours she chose. I think, overall, I managed to balance the use of colours across the image. The main fault is that he head appears too small - so in the final oil painting I need to re-proportion the design, so the head is larger and less shoulders/bust included in the artwork.

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