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Saturday, 15 January 2022

Adventures in portraiture

 While looking up something on Google, I came across a reference to thee work of  Yasumasa Morimura, who Wikipedia describes as a contemporary Japanese ‘performance and appropriation artist’. (I didn’t know that was a thing. “Appropriation artist” sounds more like a euphemism for someone involved in stealing.) And may be, in a way, it is. Morimura’s art consists of transforming himself, using props, costumes, makeup and lighting into facsimiles of iconic and famous artworks and photographs.  

as Monroe
 as Girl with a Peal Earring
as Greta Garbo
You can find a whole lot more of these with a Google image search.

There’s actually a whole internet meme for this which seems to have sprung up in the boredom of lockdown, where people dress up and pose to recreate famous paintings, which you can find here here, and hereand even album covers. People can be wonderfully creative sometimes.

Many of these are inspired, and a couple of my favourites are shown below.
Lady with an Ermine
Psyche raiding the fridge/entering Cupid's garden

Anyway, it seemed far too good an idea not to  steal, and already armed with FaceApp (which is a bit of a cheat, I admit), another app called DeepArt Effects and GIMP, I thought I'd have a go myself. At least it would provide some distraction until the next time Susie has a change to come out of lockdown.

(One of the things I've always wanted to do was a double portrait, cis-me and Susie side by side, perhaps on the sofa or some other domestic setting. Sadly, I didn't get to that, and I'm not sure I'm ready to have my undisguised picture up on this blog, so this may have wait until later)

My choices were a little left field from Vermeer, da Vinci and Waterhouse (although I've wanted to be The Lady of  Shallot  since I saw the real painting in the Tate)
Not sure this one works as well as I hoped or intended. The alignment, contrast and matching of colour and lighting (one of the really tricky parts) is a still somewhat off. I'm sure there must be another app for this, but this was best I could do manually.

This one was a little more fun after I'd pulled some strange faces in front of the camera. Perhaps I shouldn't have sucked my cheeks in quite so much. You can compare it to Gil Elvgren's original below.
Shame I couldn't take this one all the way to the outfit (or that décolletage, or even the legs for that matter) but it might be fun to try sometime.

And who doesn't want to be Uma Thurman sometimes?
Shall I throw this open as a challenge? Why not? I don't know if you can include images in Blogger comments (I suspect not), but if you want to have a go and share the results, I'd like to see them. 
Have fun



  1. Lighting and perspective seem to be the really tricky parts in tweaking someone into a photo. I hope you are pleased with the results.

  2. More intrigued than pleased, I think. It's like drawing; your early attempts always lack finesse or technique that hopefully comes with practice (or sometimes better tools). It's fun to do - when it isn't incredibly frustrating, but just plonking a face into another picture is hardly original and a bit of a dead end, even as a distraction activity. I think it would be a lot more fun to do the whole artistic tableau thing with props and frocks. (look, I've already got a title for it.) Although just where would you hide a whole seventeenth century court dress?

    1. In a seventeenth century wardrobe in a seventeenth century castle? Where do you get a Tardis when you need one..

  3. I really like the attempts here! I think the best are the latter two, in terms of seamlessness, but all of them scream of technical prowess and the time you have taken on them!

    As for hiding a seventeenth century dress, may I suggest in an under-bed bag that's on top of a wardrobe? Not that I speak from experience at all... I mean, uh, look! Clouds!

  4. Thanks Joanna
    Not exactly seamless, no. There was a lot of painting over to hide the cracks. (Do not get me to replaster and redecorate your house.)
    Unfortunately we already have a 2000 piece jigsaw on a mat under the bed, otherwise that would be an idea - especially one of those vacuum bags you can use for woollens, which might even get it down to a more manageable size. And you could disguise the panniers by hanging them over the back of your bike. (Her: 'why have you just bought a bike?')
    Perhaps I really need to get that old Singer sewing machine threaded and working.