Ireland Wisdom's first solo show, Best of Bone and Blood, is on view at Carlye Packer Headquarters (2111 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026 in Echo Park. It's close to our friends at Cosmic Vinyl, Taix, and the Lonely Oyster).
Ireland Wisdom is from Los Angeles and spent 3 years in Italy at the Florence Academy of Art studying oil painting. The particular style of classical European painting she practiced is one that not many people care for any more and even fewer people practice. The techniques she learned not only emphasized painting from life, but it was the only option she had. With increasingly high-quality imaging technology such as projectors, digital photos, and direct inkjet printing onto large canvases getting cheaper and cheaper every year, more and more artists are figuring out how to paint faster, more realistically, and in higher quantities. That's precisely the reason why the style of painting that Ireland practices is dying. She only uses live models who are required to pose for hours at time, often in multiple sessions. She had to figure out how to pull a motorcycle up three flights of stairs to her studio so she could paint the real thing and not a photo of it. She walks back and forth, away from the model and then towards them again, multiple times to "sight-size" the proportions of the body and face to ensure an accurate and life-like representation of not only how the subject and environment actually looks, but how we as humans perceive it. The lighting mimics the sun peering into the window of a dark studio. The proportions of the face and body are determined by the eyes of the painter instead of the curvature and size of the glass lens from a camera. This is the difference between a painting and a photograph or even a painting from a photograph.
I walked around the gallery multiple times, grabbing a beer after each lap, and noticed more and more details with each fresh viewing. There are muscles in your arms, tops of your hands, and calves that you can only see when your wrists, fingers, and feet are extended in a certain way. These muscles don't show up in most photos because they're so subtle and the lighting and shadows have to be cast in a specific way to notice them; you can feel them yourself by putting one hand on your forearm right below your elbow and wiggling your fingers of that arm, or just by looking at the tops of your hands and then opening/closing your hands into a fist. Ireland paints these details.
Not only does she utilize these techniques that are slowly disappearing to time and technology, but she also prefers to use similar toxic paints and mediums of the classical time period that are being phased out. In a conversation with her, I mentioned how I thought Gamblin's flake white replacement is a really great pigment, but she kinda made an "eh" face as she still prefers to use the real flake white made from poisonous lead. She also prefers the classic vermillion red that's full of mercury and sulfur. I don't use toxic colors anymore because I'm paranoid of poison (I don't even use turpenoid), but I think it's so cool that her paintings can kill you in the right circumstances.