Kemi Mai is a self-taught 18 year old digital artist that lives in the UK. She specializes in portraits (mostly female), incorporating hyper-realism in the subject, and simplified graphics in the background. Craziest part about this? She’s been doing art for only 2 years. A few years ago, she bought a graphics tablet for something else entirely, and ended up painting out of curiousity and fun. When she was younger, drawing or painting had never been a hobby… two years later, she has a beautiful porfolio of intricately detailed, brilliantly lighted and creatively colored portraits.
Starting with a simple sketch, Mai then makes the palette version of the sketch, and paints in sections starting with the subject’s eyes using Photoshop. The combination of traditional and digital art is important in that it provides the artist with the ultimate freedom to incorporate all forms of medium and expression in a piece. If one thinks it, it is possible in so many types of ways… and Mai uses both the digital and hands-on world of art to show the audience what ideas she has.
Incorporating women from different cultures and ethnicities, Mai works with a diverse color palette to express the story behind each person. One of my favorite things about her work is the source of light. It gives us the idea that even though some of the backgrounds aren’t realistic, the subjects still have a sense of space compared to the viewer, as if they are up close and personal to us. Especially with the chick with the two braids, the right side of her face is lit up, indicating that a light source is coming from the right, even though the background is a separate layer of blown up flowers. And the hyper-realism on her face pulls the viewer right into the center – you can literally see the slight sweatiness on her face. Even though there aren’t literal drops of sweat, her face still has that shininess to it and her hair looks almost glued onto her face, showing that it’s pretty damp. Those slight clues make me wonder what the story behind her is. This is what makes an artist an artist, if they pull the audience in through intricately thought of aesthetic techniques, they’re doin the thang.
Big ups to this young digital artist. She proves that you don’t need years and years of experience, or even school to learn something. You just need that drive and faith in yourself.
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