Although "Fingerpainting" is normally associated with messy classroom art project, Iris Scott is breaking the rules and oil painting with her fingertips.
Thick Oil Paint on Canvas (Fingerpainted)
When did you first realize you were an artist?
1st grade. I drew the face of a cartoon frog on one of my wooden blocks and it was damn near perfect! Rather than getting scolded for defacing one of my building blocks by parents celebrated the drawing... that was it for me.
I started Finger-painting whilst living in Southern Taiwan. Shortly after grad school I paid off my student loans and saved up some "travel money." Knowing I wanted to get away for about a year and just do some painting I spun the globe and landed my finger on Taiwan. A few months later I exited the subway in downtown Kaoshiung City and made my way to the nearest hostel.
I later found a nice little studio apartment overlooking the ocean, bought a ton of oil paints, and started painting daily for the first time in my life. This was in 2009. In Taiwan the climate is obviously hotter than blazes, so I hibernated all day in the comforts of my air conditioned room. The communal kitchen sink however was down the hall outside my cool air conditioned oasis. In 2009 I was still painting with brushes and they were all stained dark Prussian Blue but I desperately needed to add yellow to my painting. Too lazy to leave the room to wash brushes in a scorching hot kitchen down the hall I elected to start adding yellow with the tip of my finger. One stroke led to another and three years later I've sold 100 Fingerpaintings. I knew it the second I first fingerpainted that I would paint like this for the rest of my life. I'm made to paint this way.
I think of myself as a Post-Impressionist. My paintings echo my favorite artists: Munch, Van Gogh, Monet...
What are your main themes?
Life. I paint mostly from life, but water seems to keep appearing in the scenery. This is probably attributed to living in the rainy Pacific Northwest of the Seattle area.
Can you explain your process when fingerpainting?
Ideas for paintings are everywhere, in fact I essentially feel compelled to paint everything I see. Driving I see paintings, day dreaming I see paintings, sometimes I'll spot one in the house. It could be a vase of flowers, a wet windshield, and friend across from me, the view out the window. Paintings are just everywhere. When I go downstairs to the studio to paint it's a brief struggle deciding what gets to become the next oil painting. Once I've got a plan I sketch it out rapidly on the canvas and then paint for about 12 hours straight on average. I work in a very thick, straight-from-the-tube, style. Soft colors collide with other soft colors right in front of me. I don't mix paint anymore, instead I just buy more shades and colors. Colors lose a bit of their vibrancy when mixed together, I like to keep the colors as thick and raw as possible for a touchable oil paint texture. In the studio I can lose 12 hours fairly easily because time doesn't pass in the same way when I'm painting. I'm in a visual zone of consciousness that's somewhat impervious to the sense of time passing. Hours go by like minutes. I listen to great music and drink lots of coffee.
Why do you create art?
It's a wonderful vicious cycle.... I paint because it is a wonderful high. Then, to my astonishment at the end of that period of bliss the object I've created is of value to somebody else and they buy it. With the money I earn from the sale I buy more colors, better oils, and can afford to keep experimenting and pushing this expensive form of creativity. Alas, the Fingerpaintings are becoming more advanced day after day, and the more they sell the more colors I continue to buy. Ultimately I'm waiting for the day when I no longer flinch to spend $40 on a tiny 40ml tube of oil paint. The day that happens is the day I'm painting 100% uninhibited. What will it be like? What will my paintings look like and how large will they be the day I can squeeze onto my fingertips as much of the finest oil paint as I desire?! Ah! I cannot wait.
What is the best artwork you ever created?
I like all of them. Some of them I love, and a select few I own prints of myself. There is one that really stands out though, "Watts and Watts of Neon Paint." When I look at that painting it feels like I'm looking at a canvas painted by someone else. I cannot remember the process, I don't know how really I did it. I must have been in some sort of zone.
Do you make a living with your art?
YES. I feel so fortunate to be 100% supported by my art. When people ask me what I "do" I say I'm a Professional Fingerpainter as seriously as possible.
What are your top two methods of art promotion on the internet?
What role does the artist play in society?
To reveal the unseen.
Do you have influences?
Not really. I don't really understand myself where the influences are coming from. I see paintings everywhere I look during daily life and then go home and make them. Influence must be a culmination of everything I've lived through so far.
Can you recommend a great modern day artist?
I think this is the most exciting contemporary artist living today. His artworks are colorful, insane, unique, original, and strangely appealing in their own very weird way.
Where do you see yourself as an artist in 10 years?
Ten years from now I will be living near the equator in a very tropical place. I will be learning whatever is the foreign language and painting every day. Just as I am now, I will be Fingerpainting almost every day and selling through the Internet. It will be important that UPS is at least somewhat close because I will be shipping worldwide.. (Luckily UPS is in almost every country now.
My table top will have sitting on it every single color Holbein Aqua Oils manufactures and there will be not a care in the world about how much those paints cost. My Fingerpaintings will be richer in color than they are now, larger, and more full of movement.
Do you have any advice for emerging artists?
YES!! Spend at least a year or two painting every day. In order to do this you need to save up and move to a country with a very low cost of living. You will find yourself less distracted by life and also more apt at making enough money in art to cover your living expenses.
Ooh! And one more thing....let go of your art to people that want to buy your pieces. Immediately turn around and buy better supplies. The goal is to improve and astonish yourself. You should be more focused on what you're capable of creating rather than what you've already made. . . "The best is yet to come...."
Professional Fingerpainter Iris Scott wears surgical gloves to apply oil paint straight from the tubes!
Iris Scott - Professional Fingerpainter
Art Website: Iris Finger Paintings