Joanna Barnum uses watercolor to express universal emotional states and the unique spirits of her portrait subjects, balancing experimental, abstract use of the media with sensitive realism and symbolism.
"My current process for creating the work in this series begins with shooting photo reference of friends, family, and professional performers, because of photography's ability to capture fleeting expressions and emotions. Sections of my preliminary drawing on watercolor paper are masked out, and watercolor is splashed, dripped, sprayed, and brushed onto the exposed areas, alternating wet-on-wet and wet-on-dry applications. When the masking is removed, the traditional components of the portrait are completed utilizing a controlled application of the media, layering washes of warm and cool colors to create realistic skin tones. Sometimes multiple reference sources are woven together in different layers to create conceptual juxtapositions or to create a feeling of movement or the passage of time. Ultimately, I work back and forth between the figurative and abstract components to resolve the composition and concept for the portrait."