Having identified that I’d like to experiment with layers and mixed media I set about printing off some portraits of myself and then playing around with different mediums and papers. I was most interested in the results of different mediums on the inkjet transparency film and the semi opaque vellum.

The areas I wish to explore in my work are societal expectations on women and the messages passed down from our families about what it is to be a woman.

So as a starting point, I began by looking at how as women we try to make ourself conform to a visual ideal of beauty. I looked at contouring, cosmetic surgery and stumbled across the Golden Ratio of a Beautiful Face. Having done the shoot with me wearing facemasks I grabbed a few images from this shoot to play around with. As a result the idea of using masks as a metaphore for how we change how we appear to others in order to get closer to societal expectations continued to run through this experimentation.

I overlay this golden ratio matrix ideal onto my own face and my face was nowhere close to the ideal. From nose to chin my face is far too long to match up to this mathematical ideal of beauty. So rather than alter me (which I saw a lot of search results for) I altered the matrix.

Next I thought about my generational lineage and how various different family members had heavily influenced my identity (both genetically and through our relationships). So I dug out old photos and overlaid my face matrix onto the faces of my grandmother, mother, sister and daughter. With all the faces the same size, I set about cutting them up to see what would happen. The result was a grim Hannibal-Frankenstein style monster in the shape of my head. Not at all interesting.

I started looking at contour lines next and painted contour guidelines over the matrix masks (I don’t contour so I had to google how it’s done and they place a lighter colourer highlighter in some areas and a darker coloured contour colour in others, this gives the illusion of a more sculpted face when blended. These didn’t seem all that interesting either (the one on the right below is my face structure which looks significantly more masculine when contoured than than the beauty ideal on the left). I then moved onto the pen lines you might expect to see on the face of someone about to undergo facial cosmetic surgery. Then I added other elements such as coloured contact lenses, eyeliner, false lashes and a red lip. Having done this in white paper I then tried in on the vellum.

Looking at different mediums on different surfaces
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