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A portrait is about identity, right?

However, how much can a person’s face tell us about the person?

Likeness? - Hard to know if we never met the person.

Age? - Only approximately. Gender? - Probably, not always though. Mood? - Perhaps. Personality? - To a certain extent. The color of the skin? The color of the eyes?

Clothes in which artists depict a person can reveal fashion preferences, belonging to a subculture, and occupation.

The interior depicted around the person, where the person is positioned and the objects which surround him or her, may tell us about occupation and things the person favors. At least that was the trend of the past.

For the portrait of Nicole I decided to tell her story with the help of the tattoos she chose to get on her chest, shoulders and arms. I incorporated them as images for the background of Nicole’s portrait.

So here is the story.

“Chaos” says one of her tattoos. This makes me think of how chaotic her life was when this fragile women got addicted to heroin during her teenage years, and how worrisome and sad it must have been for her family to learn about the addiction.

Furthermore, Nicole became a mother at 14. She was herself still a child, who loved “Hello Kitty” and had that character tattooed on her chest just below the right color bone. I used “Hello Kitty” as one of the background occupiers - peeking out from the opening of the imaginary surface which divides the world of innocence and the hard reality which presented itself to the heroine of the portrait.

On the right shoulder of Nicole as displayed in the portrait there is a tattoo of a praying female figure who in her turn has a face tattoo with a Day of the Dead image. After I learned Nicole’s story, that praying figure made me think of Nicole’s mother who probably prayed constantly to all possible divine powers to deliver her girl from evil of addiction. The prayers were answered: Nicole was able to overcome her addiction.

The yarn background image represents a big and colorful tattoo from her left shoulder. She likes to knit. The first time I painted her she suggested knitting while posing. Later, when she told me her story I realized that the yarn could symbolize her life which had been tangled and messed up but which she was able to straighten out…

Lastly there is a blooming bush on human legs wearing high heel shoes. On the background the leggy bush floats above the opening of the surface, similar to the “Hello Kitty” that peeks out from above. What the bush stands for and where it is going is up to the viewer to decide…

Nicole lives in Raleigh,NC with her son. She works as a model for artists and photographers. She also helps drug addicted people with counseling and distributing clean syringes. Perhaps, there are will be other tattoos she decides to have painted on her body. I hope they will be the related only to happy moments…


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