The idea of summing up this project in words intimidates me (it's a bunch of pictures for a reason), so I'll fall back to what I learned in elementary school, with five W's.
This is a series of 100 digital master copies of paintings from (mostly) Western art history with self portraits faceswapped in. It started out as a 100 day project before getting out of control.
This project was done on my iPad, using an Apple Pencil with the apps Adobe Sketch and Adobe Fresco. By the way--those programs were/are free! That was a huge plus for me when I started this.
(Actually--let me go on a bit of a tangent here--in an incredible turn of events, about 30 entries into this project, I actually got hired at Adobe to do experience design on the Fresco team. I'm still at Adobe today. This project literally changed my life!)
Back on topic--While I did work digitally, I didn't trace or do any photo manipulation to make the paintings, instead copying everything paintstroke by paintstroke.
I started in Spring 2018 and finished in December 2020, spending about two and a half years in all. (Utterly blowing the original 100 Days Project goal to complete something every single day for 100 days, but that goal was happily abandoned once the project took on a life of its own.)
I'm Jinjin Sun. In my day job I design Adobe Fresco, a free drawing and painting app for the iPad, iPhone, and Windows 10 devices. The rest of the time I immerse myself in art however I can. I love to draw digitally, and these days I'm also experimenting with more traditional mediums like watercolors and oil paints. I'm a first generation Chinese American who grew up in the Northeast US and am now based in Brooklyn, New York. I like art, reading, spending time in nature, and eating spam musubi.
I would like to add a brief disclaimer--IANAS (I Am Not A Scholar), and IANAW (I Am Not A Writer). I am but a simple fan of art with a Wikipedia habit. Take my commentary with a grain of salt and seek out more information on anything you find here that's interesting--go deep with actual professional researchers for the good stuff. I've found published books, and lectures from art museums and universities, to be endlessly interesting and the most accurate sources of info.
This is the most interesting question. Let me attempt to summarize.
1. To improve my skills. While I've always loved drawing and took many art electives and extracurriculars, I never went to a dedicated art school. I've always felt some FOMO at my lack of formal training and ignorance of art history. This project became a way to make up for it and give myself a self-directed art boot camp. I knew that copying masterpieces from museums was a time-honored way of learning, and figured if it was good enough for Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Picasso, etc., it was good enough for me.
2. To relax. Drawing is meditative. Around entry 45, I gave up on the original goal of finishing in 100 days, and started really sinking time into each painting, zooming in and lavishing attention on the smallest details. Because there was no instant gratification, in some sense it was tedious, but in another sense it was soothing. Taking that time really gave my mind time to wander and think over big questions like the ones I allude to below. This calming, slow activity became a real refuge during the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
3. To explore my identity. Seeing how politics changed with the 2016 election, learning about social justice, and reflecting on my experiences in school and work led me to muse more and more about what it means to be a woman and an East Asian in our current society here in the US. Because I chose to focus on depicitons of women, and so many of them were white, this project became my way of working that out. I'm sure it's something I'll be turning over in my mind for the rest of my life.
It means a lot to me that you'd check out this project. Thank you so much for stopping by! If you want to get in touch, you can email me at jinjin.x.sun @ gmail.com.