When you hear about a trailblazing fine artist with a title like Skinny G, you know you’re in for a treat. Hailing from the Eastern Cape, Nicole McComb has a knack of translating serious topics into colourful masterpieces. From her love of rap music to her unusual nickname, we got the hot skinny on the aspiring artist.
Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
Not until my matric year, when I made the decision to do a Fine Art Degree at Stellenbosch University. I thought I wanted to work in advertising, because that’s what the career counsellor tells you if you like people and are creative.
If you weren’t painting…
I’d be creating very conceptual themed events. I still hope to do this one day!
How would you classify your art?
I think I am inherently a painter and not a mixed media artist. My thought process comes across like mix media though – how I visually group elements of the world through paint. I repaint photographs I have taken, focusing on people doing interesting actions and then collage them and these actions in different spaces to create a new dynamic. It begs the interesting question of who is allowed in a space and what actions are being performed there.
I think mistakes make paintings more interesting. I am still learning new things every day and enjoy the process of playing. So I don’t mind the feeling of having no idea what I am doing.
Do you have any design rituals or creative process?
I clean my palette and lay out fresh paint. Even if I am painting something mainly blue, I lay out all the colours, so I won’t forget about the cheeky yellow that would work great in some shapes. After observing and collecting images to paint I’ll play around with compositions and images. If a finished painting is around to long, I’ll often recreate something with it, cutting it up or painting over it. The coolest art tip I’ve ever received was to see how the under painting affects the new painting. It blew my mind. I love seeing how the history of an old image reappears and affects the new painting.
How do you know when a painting is finished and you can put the brush down?
The paintings never really feel finished. That is such a cliché I know but I think it is more a feeling of ‘I don’t know what else to add so I am not going to over kill it.’ I’s like completing a full circle, and being satisfied with the pattern I have created. There is no set structure, but I’m happy when I feel I have made a connection between the figures.
How has your art style changed since you’ve begun?
I plan less and love the mistakes because they create something new and challenge me.
With art being very subjective, how do you handle negative criticism?
I appreciate the negative crits the most. If everyone told you you’re brilliant when you’re actually not you would never grow and become better. You need to be encouraged but you also need someone telling you when you full of sh*t and making bad art. I think that’s what my mom does.
All-time favourite piece of art?
Any Pierneef landscape painting.
Which of your works best depicts what you’re about?
‘Boys will be boys’. It is colourful, multifaceted and full of absolute chaos. I like to think pleasant chaos. It also has patterns that are not real patterns, but patterns to me.
We’re dying to hear about your artist residency at Muratie…
It was in October 2016 and I seriously enjoyed my time there. It was a good month of solid painting. Some days I painted up to 8 hours, which I don’t think is sustainable for me, but was a good challenge. I did get a bit lonely coming from a full studio space to a single studio space but I am glad I could test the environment – It’s confirmed that I need people and creative input. I think I produced a solid body of work that is going to lead to something even stronger, well, it feels that way in my head so I’m hoping for the best!
What’s the one line we can use at a poncy art exhibition to pass as a true art lover?
‘The intention of the line is [insert adjective here].’ For example: ‘The intention of the line is so powerful’
And lastly, we have to ask, what’s the story behind your Skinny G middle name?
With my love of rap music, dance and seriously skinny legs, I was declared a ‘Skinny Gangster’ at my University initiation – it stuck from there and not many peers know me by my real name. Unlike Snoop Dog, I understand it might not fit in the professional art world, so we’ll see where it goes from here…
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