Unlike my ‘Nymph of the Petal Tears’ I began this mixed media (acrylic-oil painting) artwork with a concept already in mind. I intended of depicting both a strong female character and overlooked racism.
As usual, I began the first few layers using only acrylic paint: I wanted to blend and experiment with colors and tones using a medium that would dry quickly. In my original sketch I had a full room, a pet fox, and several smaller trinkets that did not make the final cut.
The issue that I decided to place a spotlight under is a well kept dark secret in Africa; in fact, it’s probably the reason that elephants being massacred for their ivory tusks dominate the news in order to conceal this bitter pill. It is the matter of Albino hunting.
African Albinos are seen as outcasts in their native society; many don’t live to see their twelfth birthday since they are usually either sold by their families to a hoodoo cult or kidnapped by a witch doctor.
The albino maiden that is the focus of this painting, Maaike (translates to ‘rebellious woman’) is a pirate captain (of my imagination) who escaped murder at the hands of a witch doc with the help of her childhood friends (one of whom is standing behind her in the composition).
Originally, I titled this painting as ‘White Feather,’ not just because of the large, posh ostrich feather attached to Maaike’s Victorian era ‘Lady Diane’ hat. I was inspired by the name of one of the characters from Chinese movie House of the Flying Daggers/飞刀门／fei dao men. The name, Sui Feng (随风), means ‘As the wind moves.’ He comes and goes following the wind patterns, much like pirates do. However, as the painting progressed and I discussed it with a few friends, we mutually agreed that ‘Albino Pirate’ described this artwork more effectively.
I may be painting one of the final layers, but it doesn’t mean I am replacing every inch of acrylic painting details with oil paint. The feather cloak for example, I am only adding a few dynamic strokes to the composition, to refine it a bit more.
I did mess up the facial composition a bit, but I will tweak it in my next #WIP post on my Instagram page (@xi_wen_c).
I will also post my available Instagram art process videos in the next few ‘diary entries.’
Instead of painting some badass lace-up doc-martens or thigh high leather boots for Maaike to wear, I decided to give her the same type of shoes that a lady of her noble birth would wear on a ‘normal day’-pin heels. It’s a subtle reminder that her infamous title/profession wasn’t really a choice, but a decision she made out of necessity.
I didn’t introduce an exotic black and white owl into the background just to fill space; they are an iconic symbol for intelligence/mystery. Both qualities I hope to invoke within ‘Albino Pirate.’ Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll continue to read/comment on my blog. Please leave a follow on this blog/my Instagram page.
~Xi Wen Chen