Lighting Makes the Difference - The 18th oil painting from the series Diary of a Trans Woman, by artist Nicki Lucio

The ongoing body of work, and the first day of my installation Hello World in the McNay exhibition Transamerica

My studio is located inside of a warehouse, and is an open-air partition amongst many others. One feature that drew me to this studio was the availability of natural overhead lighting, from a plastic ceiling window. In the world of art, lighting makes a difference, be it natural or artificial.

Natural diffuse light fills my studio, therefore, as a result, I could rely less on the green fluorescent lamps that hang overhead.

The weather itself can influence what kind of illumination I’ll have on any particular day. Cloudy days are soft with gentle shadows. Direct sunlight can have a stark glow, casting my features in steep shadows, resulting in these darker paintings.

As I transitioned into the gallery space at the McNay, the lighting, and my appearance, began to change.

That in itself presented an entirely new slew of challenges for me. In my current studio setup, the varied lighting allowed me to see myself in completely different ways. One consequence of relocating into the museum gallery was that the lighting was far more consistent. I was worried that it would trap me and my paintings would all take on an air of similarity. Fortunately, I found that would not be the case.

The technique which I used to create these earlier paintings in the body of work has a more “painterly” look to them. The strokes were messy and abrupt, allowing the shades of gray to messily play into each other. I primarily used a single #6 flat brush to do most of these strokes. Towards the end, I allowed myself to move to something smaller to capture the finer details. This was quite intentional, because as a result, the broad strokes from a single brush would keep me moving forward. This prevented me from fussing and getting lost in the details.

This is my self-portrait oil painting number 20 in my series, Diary of a Trans Woman.

From my installation Hello World at the McNay Museum of Modern Art as part of the exhibition Transamerica: Gender, Identity, Appearance Today during the Summer of 2019.

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