Here’s part one of my conversation with Ellen Forney about her current show at Secluded Alley Works. The show runs through the end of November, and is shared with another artist that I did not get a chance to talk to, Kristine Evans aka Kinoko. This conversation formed the basis of an article in Tablet 81, not posted at the time that I prepped this for the blog.
EF: I’m Titties. I’m the titty half. My series is called Big Paintings of Sexy Women .
M: And they are.
EF: And they are. And so they’re done on masonite, three feet by four feet – hence ‘big’ – and doing this – making this kind of structure is new to me. Like I said, this is really carpentry for me. But that they stand out from the wall – that they’re so big, they stand out from the wall, they’re really sturdy, it all comes together in this message that I’m trying to send, that they’re sexy, but in a very positive, assertive, confident kind of way.
M: Which reflects themes that have been going on in your work for the while time I’ve been aware of it anyway.
EF: Yes, exactly. It definitely is.
M: How is working with paint for a gallery presentation different than working with ink for reproduction?
EF: Working for – it’s been really different for me to work not for reproduction, for one. Even these pieces the glitter ones where there’s ink that I’m much more familiar with – the process is much more intense because I’m used to being able to touch up the linework with white-out – I use white acrylic. And I didn’t want to do that for these. Cause then it’s an illustration, then it’s for reproduction.
M: Ellen’s talking about the small pen-and-ink drawings [brush actually] on the wall with glitter applied to them right now.
EF: So even that was a little different.
So how is it working with color?
The difference is huge. For me it was really like learning another language. You know, I know how to speak a language, and so I know the basics of language, but there were so many differences, the scale was so different. Even when I color – for my comics I color in photoshop and I use really flat colors, so it’s sort of like a silkscreen – that’s my rule of thumb in my comics actually, if it’s an effect than can exist in a silkscreen, I’ll use it and if it can’t that’s an effect I will not use. Which is actually how I originally though I was gonna start out this series.
Like, Mary – this one on the wall – is the first one that I did and all of the line work or most of the line work is really sharp and the colors are really flat and it came out really flat – like it came out really lifeless to me.
M: This is the one with the woman on the white couch with a black background, she has black and white streaked hair.
EF: And after hating it – she used to be on pillows, and it was all really flat colored, I took gesso, and just gessoed up the whole background and I just realized that that’s what I needed to do, is mush it up. I went over a lot of the linework and I just loosened it up. I thought I was gonna have to work a lot more loosely than I was accustomed to working – really small and really tight – and I was really upset.
I mean I really thought it was going to be a series of large paintings as if they were silkscreens but large. And it seems the most important lessons in my career trajectory have been through difficulty, like working through something I see as a problem. Like, ‘Fuck! Now I have to learn to use paint!’
EF: Like, this is the second one that I did. I started playing with
M: This one’s called Janet . It’s the woman in platform shoes wearing an orange jumpsuit.
EF: Orange jumpsuit with a safety-yellow background.
M: And a giant wrench.
EF:A giant wrench. So I was playing with underpainting on this. That’s where you paint a color underneath. I guess there was blue – that’s this blue – and then I painted orange on top of it.
M: It’s kind of a steel blue with a darker navy outline around the form between the orange and the yellow background.
EF: And then I thought that I was gonna do the whole background flat, like this, like that background is really flat on Mary. And it just seemed like it needed to be pushed back to the corners, and so I did.
M: And then you’ve got that going on in all the other ones – this glow to the center of it.
EF: That was the first halo that I did. And then I really liked it, so I kept up with that for these.
(end part one)