A golden-skinned woman covered in abstract organic swirls, her eyes closed, cries a tear of softly smudged paint.


After sketching and getting down the forms of the woman, I started adding in complementary colors and smudging them together with the “standard” painting underneath. By the time I got to the detailing stage, I already had a highly patterned work.

I then created a sense of scale by blurring the outside edges, folding them into either her hair with soft smudges, and by creating small-scale patterns for the background. Because she’s such a focal point, that sense of “scale” wasn’t meant to make her look relatively large so much as it was meant to make her seem large and small all at once. Depending on where I looked at the piece, I could convince myself that she was larger than or the same size as the surrounding environment, which was key to making Dysphoria feel, in some sense, unusual, just from the composition.

The final steps are always my straight-down smudges, which here were the tear and the smudge running straight down the center line of her face. I then popped up the color intensity of a few keys areas and dropped them elsewhere to get the eyes to focus on the areas I wanted: her forehead, eyes, and lips. As a final touch, I put straight black into the top left of the piece to make it feel as though her hair was almost serving as an all-encompassing blanket for her form.