Passion Chokes the Flower


An intensely vibrant tree evocative of an autumn day, with swirling branches, holds the face of a woman in its center, who regards the viewer with a serious expression. A series of repeated, deformed eyes extending out into the distance covers the bottom left of the painting, with the top right, seeming closer, is covered with sharp blues and yellow leaves.


I think the only reference I used for this one was a couple of faces for the central pose. To make her feel a little non-human I took cues from two different women, using one reference for the top half of her face and another for the bottom, divided midway between her eyes and mouth.

The rest of the piece was painted from imagination. Executing it was complicated, because I was being ambitious—like with my earlier piece Dysphoria, I wanted to communicate multiple scales at once to make this work feel compositionally unsettling, which I did by making the left side of the painting seem more distant than the right. On the left, I also added in repeated sections of smudged eyes that trail upward to create more of a sense of distance, while on the right I focused more on foreground leaves.

I added in the fractal “third eye” construct on the central woman’s forehead last by taking those same eye patterns and designing them into a flower-like structure. Afterward, I integrated her more fully into the tree from which she emerges, using a mixture of smudging and burning to provide a sense of integration and shading, respectively.