Raheem Nelson

Don’t Touch My Soul (Solange Painting)

One night I was out at Rudy’s in New Haven and I ran into a friend of mine. He told me about an exciting new art show that I had to get involved with. Over the next few days I received the details on the event. The show was based on the work of Solange Knowles. Specifically her latest LP, A Seat at the Table. One of the themes of the show was self care so with that in mind I set out to create my most ambitious piece yet.

My excursions to London’s National Portrait Gallery and The Louvre in Paris influenced my painting style for the better. I came back to New Haven inspired and rejuvenated. It was time for another multi hour painting session. The process was difficult because I hadn’t created any portraits  in the past few months. Freelance assignments have to take precedence. With a lull in between projects I had enough motivation and free time to dive right in. 

My approach involved thinking like a traditional oil painter. An underpainting was utilized after the initial sketches were tightened up over a few hours to give me a foundation to work with. Next I blocked in the colors of Solange’s face using my go to tool, the wet oil brush. These stages were crucial because I needed to make sure the proportions and the expression fit the photo reference and conveyed my vision of Solange.

Her hair (which was done in an Afro style) was rendered using a charcoal brush to achieve the texture I wanted and differentiated it from her complexion. After that I used the blender tool (consider it like a palette knife) to smooth out the digital paint and create a more life-like piece. The cloak came into mind while I was looking through some of my photos of London and Paris. It symbolizes her rise to prominence and the passion she has. 

The halo was a late addition and symbolizes strength, faith and perseverence. Before perspective came to in art play halos were depicted in a way were they looked like they were behind the subjects head instead of how we see halos depicted as a ring above the head.

This painting was created specifically for an art show conceived by The Lineage Group called Seats at The Table. They even made it the center piece of the event. The canvas print is a massive 40x60. It’s my hope that someday soon Solange herself will see it. Painting created using Procreate on iPad Pro.

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