Painter Jenny Morgan talks about the process behind her nude self-portraits
|"Play Nice," Jenny Morgan|
From the photograph to the final piece, what is your process like? How long does each work take?
The photograph sessions usually last about an hour and I take between fifty and one hundred shots. It goes quicker than it sounds. Editing down is one of my favorite processes -- to see the range of emotions in everyone, and how they carry themselves through time. It's interesting. I edit down, to find the image I'm most attracted to. Sometimes I'm attracted to multiple images from a shoot.
Then I get them processed and developed at a certain place every time, and blow the image up on a copier and do a pastel transfer. I make my own canvases -- I still use stretcher bars -- and that takes a day or two of prep. Then I lay the image down; I always start on a red underground surface, so that's the red that peeks through with the sanding, or shows up in certain surfaces. I started doing the red base in college, and now it's the only way I can really work. The red is really meaningful as a base layer.
The actual painting, sanding and other techniques, takes about two weeks. The larger pieces are usually two or three weeks, from start to finish.
What about when you do a commissioned piece, like the Julian Assange and Courtney Love pieces?
Those are due in five days, so it's a much different process. The back-and-forth with a creative director usually takes a day. They supply the photo, usually, or it's an online sourced photo. Then, over the next four days, I put a shit-load of drier in the paint -- like a cobalt drier -- and I try to do layers quickly.
I make them an actual painting -- I know I could do it on a smaller scale, but then my final product wouldn't mean as much to me. It was important to me to make the commissioned paintings as large as I usually would. It's nice for me, because I have an actual piece at the end of it, and I have a collector based in Denver who has priority viewing on commissioned pieces. He's collecting them as a body of work, which is rewarding for me. His plan in the future is to show them in an exhibition. After thinking in this commercial way to make the piece, it's rewarding to think it will bounce back in that other realm.
I've never had the opportunity to meet these people and photograph them for commissions, but I'm hoping to get to a place where I can. I'm talking with New York magazine about getting to a place where that is the actual project; I think it would be so interesting.
For now, they usually hire me because they can't get to the person, or the person doesn't want to be photographed. I didn't want to take it on, initially, because it is in that 'illustration world'. It's such a fine line and you don't want to get boxed in to that when you're a fine artist. But it was a large platform, (the subjects) were interesting and it was early in my career. It was an opportunity I couldn't deny.