A Word on ‘Adrift’

Adrift in apathy

Adrift: A comment on our identity as a nation collectively, as well as on individual apathy and complacency in the face of impending doom.

‘Adrift’ started as nothing more than an attempt to place my subject somewhere other than on a mattress in a studio. A week or so earlier I’d seen a photograph of a mother and son floating in a boat and the image stuck with me, so when it came time to relocate my model I set out in search of a boat to lay her down in. As with many of my pieces things developed organically from there until I posted a teaser to Instagram with the hashtag ‘fineart’.

Instagram teaser of Adrift

Here is the teaser I'd posted with the original shot next to the work in progress.

A friend noted that they’d never heard of ‘fine art boudoir’ and wanted to know more. I found myself speechless and having to admit that the true motivation behind the tag was to draw viewers that would search the term. This is the danger of working with portrait photography. You get used to creating something flashy, as opposed to something thought provoking.

It was at that moment that I paused. All work on the piece stopped and I used the time to reflect on the ideas present and how I could push them further.

Upon returning to the work weeks later I brought with me a new sense of purpose. My first fit of creativity had cut away the majority of stone and left me with a general shape; now it was time to chisel down to reveal something more meaningful.

source images for composite

Clockwise from top left: A family portrait by Innamorata Photography, Ice texture, the Helix Nebula, smoke on black.

The first thing to go was the muddled layer of snow that was, in all honesty, a temporary fix for hiding mistakes; after all, few things work better at hiding errors than the layering of textures. While the snow was gone, the cold, desaturated, and isolated tone of the work remained. Textures of ice in the water and mist working its way around the boat were enhanced.

I considered removing the oars at one point but hung on to them as I found that the implication that our subject, having the ability change course but opting not to do so, was key to this piece. That said, drifting alone on a placid lake, even if cold, is far from threatening so I painted in dark water creeping into the vessel.

The stars reflected in the still water come from the Helix Nebula, sometimes referred to as The Eye of God. While stunning to look at and spiritual in its beauty, a planetary nebula is actually the dying remnants of a once life sustaining star. Our subject, young, beautiful, and capable stays wrapped in a flag pointed the wrong direction rather than rise to take the oars and change course.

‘Adrift’ is both a comment on our identity as a nation collectively, as well as on individual apathy and complacency in the face of impending doom.


Model: Michelle