By Eliza Noe
While most people were learning how to bake bread and working on losing the ‘Quarantine 15,’ Abbey Edmondson was spending her time in quarantine painting drunk selfies of her best friends.
Edmonson, a senior, was living in her hometown of Tupelo when the idea to create the comical paintings came to her. Her friends had planned to celebrate her 21st birthday with her in March, but after the pandemic began, they had been scattered across the country. So, instead of spending the monumental birthday by herself, she used her artistic abilities to bring her friends to her.
“I thought, if we couldn’t party together, why not just paint them and party with them that way?” she said.
Her friends, who quickly began sending in their favorite drunken self-portraits after she announced the project, became her guinea pigs as she experimented with how to portray the chaotic energy of the moment in the photos while working on her portraiture skills.
“When I was taking an art class, we worked on a lot of different styles of painting — like still life and landscapes — but portraits have always been my favorite,” she said. “There’s something more personal about it.”
The process is simple. After clients send in their chosen selfies, Edmonson grids the photo and her canvas to easily decipher the proportions for parts of the subjects’ faces. After sketching out the basic shapes of the face, body and background, she then begins mixing her paints to find specific shades of colors for the subjects’ skin, clothes and hair.
Using only the colors red, yellow, blue and white, she mixes to find each intricate shade for lights and shadows.
“I always start with the face or the skin. It’s always interesting to see what colors are in the undertones of someone’s skin,” Edmonson said. “Unsurprisingly, I use a lot of red since skin tends to become warmer or pinker when they drink alcohol.”
Edmonson, who has only taken three formal art classes, has been painting and creating art for as long as she can remember.
“I promise I don’t only do drunk selfies,” she added. “Recently I’ve had a lot of clients asking for dog portraits, which I think is interesting. I think my favorite one is the portrait I did from Elvis, since we’re from the same hometown.”
Edmonson’s project has expanded beyond just her friends. She has received commissioned portraits of intoxicated individuals from strangers all over the country from the exposure her paintings have gotten on social media sites like Instagram and TikTok.
“I got my first commission from TikTok, and honestly, it’s weird,” she said. “I get sent drunk selfies of people I’ve never met, and I get paid to paint them.”