Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Pretty/Tough Mask by Linda Edkins Wyatt

Hi! Linda Edkins Wyatt here, with my interpretation of StencilGirl's mask theme. I thought long and hard about what kind of mask to make: a Halloween or Mardi Gras festive mask, a Tragedy & Comedy mask, or maybe a medical mask, since I spent the last 10 months wearing a medical mask daily for my job in a New York City public hospital.
But, as I was paying the cashier at my local drugstore, I saw a poster of an eye makeup ad that was really bold and unconventional. It got me thinking about how we use makeup, hairdos, tattoos, clothing, and jewelry as part of the mask, we put on daily to present ourselves to the world. Some people go with a natural look, using makeup to enhance their good features and minimize the imperfections. Others take things a few steps further, with extreme eye makeup, striking tattoos, and elaborate hairstyles.
An an oil self-portrait from around 2005 was the basis for the mask

I thought back to an oil self-portrait that I had painted years ago, around 2005, when I was having some serious health issues. I looked sullen and unhappy and painted myself exactly the way I felt. I had been taking a medication that had the side-effect of being unable to sleep without a sleep-inducing medications. I was frustrated and bone-weary. It was a vicious cycle of exhaustion and anxiety. Fortunately, I had photographed the painting, so for this project, I printed two copies of the painting from my inkjet printer, using one for the canvas and saving one for the mask.

A printout of the 2005 portrait was trimmed and glued to an unfinished 12" x 12" canvas

I took an unfinished 12"x12" canvas that hadn't turned out the way I envisioned, and glued one portrait on top using matte medium. I added recycled, empty teabags to join the printout to the canvas, then stenciled until it merged  and I could no longer tell where the printout ended and the canvas began.

Recycled, empty teabags were glued to the canvas, uniting the background and the printout

The printout on the canvas with all teabags added

My Spiral from the Lemurian Garden collection was added with Speckled Egg ink to soften the darkness of the teabags

To further lighten the teabags and unite the elements,
the Tapestry stencil was added using Spun Sugar ink

Once the background was complete, I cut out the face from the second printout

My idea was to create a removable mask for the portrait: a tough but pretty mask. So, with the second self-portrait printout, I again used matte medium, but this time adhered it to a piece of rusted fabric. I used flesh-toned paint the way you would use a makeup base, and pinks (the way you would use blush and lipstick). The eye makeup was inspired by one of the makeup ads I saw in the drugstore.

Rusted cotton was the background for the removable mask.

The eyes were enhanced using Posca Pens

Paint and Posca Pens simulated foundation, blush, lipstick, and eye makeup

A comparison of the finished background with the unfinished mask

I gessoed over the glasses perched atop my head in the original painting,
then added wild blue hair. After trying several stencils for a neck tattoo,
I settled on part of a Sacred Heart by Laurie Milka

 Once I had the face and hair painted, I used a plate to draw a circular shape and added extensions at the side to attach the mask to the canvas.

I pinned the painted rusty fabric, along with some felt padding and a purple batik backing, and cut the circle, leaving strips at the sides to attach the mask to the canvas.

Here you can see the "quilt sandwich" layers in the mask

I lightly quilted the mask and stitched the edges closed, adding pink chalk lines and pink stitching radiating out from the face.

The pink chalk lines were intended to be guidelines for the quilting, but I decided to leave the pink chalk, and also use pink for the thread to contrast with the blue hair.

A few spots of Velcro on the side of the canvas and on the mask tabs made it easy to remove and attach.

Velcro tabs were the perfect solution so that the mask would be easily removable.

It was pretty bizarre to try outlandish makeup, hairdos, jewelry, and tattoos on myself! I tried various crown ideas, a few different stencils to suggest a neck tattoo, and gave my mask-self wild blue hair. You can see in the photo below that the features on the mask and the canvas under-painting match exactly.

On the right, the painted canvas, with an understated version of me. On the left, the mask shows what I might look like if I let loose and embraced bold makeup and hair. You can see that the two versions match perfectly since they were based on the same self-portrait painting.

 The final touches were adding a crown, made from Gwen Lafluer's Art Deco Borders stencil done with embossing powder on rusted fabric, fake blue and green gems around the edges of the mask circle, earrings of Turkmen Jewelry Parts from Gwen Lafluer's website, a few strips of turquoise washi tape, and a cross atop the crown, formed from a section of Laurie Milka's Pilgrimage to the Renaissance.

Here's a video (with music) on the whole process, start to finish. Enjoy!

Stencils used:

Linda Edkins Wyatt, Lemurian Spiral

Kristie Taylor, Tapestry

Gwen Lafluer, Art Deco Borders

Laurie Milka, Four Sacred Hearts

Laurie Milka, Pilgrimage to the Renaissance

Additional resource:
For the jewelry, I incorporated bits of Turkmen Jewelry Parts from Gwen Lafluer's website
Inks, paints and Posca Pens from The Ink Pad NYC



  1. Fun and innovative project - thanks, Linda, for your inspiration!

  2. Fabulous. Inspired. Just love this!

  3. Wait... How am I not finding the link to the video?


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