I Am Black, Nonbinary, and Proud

I Am Black, Nonbinary, and Proud

This portrait was an interesting experience for me.

I received the submission pretty early on in my call for photos, but I didn’t start working on it until almost three months later. The original photos I had to choose from didn’t particularly inspire me, and the lighting/coloring made me feel like it was going to be a struggle to paint them. I had many others to choose from that seemed easier, and so I left this one for a while.

But then as I was looking for a new portrait to paint, I came across this picture again and decided that it was about time I worked on it. And to be honest, I’m really glad I did. The linework was simple and enjoyable to do, and the more I slogged through the coloring, the more it started to look like a really interesting composition instead of a bunch of disconnected colors.

The skin did give me a bit of trouble, at least at first. As I’ve said before, my color sense in art was never really professionally developed, and I’ve been having to learn as I go. Most notably, skin has an amazing range of color, and actually contains many colors that we wouldn’t normally think of as “skin.” For instance, through working on the Black subjects in this portrait series, I’ve actually been discovering the many shades of red and purple that exist in Black skin, and it’s been a very interesting lesson, watching the painting take me from “…are you sure this is the right color?” to “oh my goodness, these blend so well!” It was a joy painting this subject in particular, and I honestly think this is one of the most beautiful portraits I’ve done.

I’m very grateful to this subject’s participation in the project, both for the lending of their face and also for their bold statement of their identity. Although I am white, I appreciate the difficulties of being Black in American society today, and as a queer person, I understand and have experienced the difficulties that come with being a gender minority in this world. To live both of these experiences and to be proud of your identities is, to me, a great strength, and I feel privileged to have painted a person who exudes such strength.

#transisbeautiful #blackisbeautiful #nonbinaryisbeautiful. We are human.

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