Stunning images from Alexa Meade that blur the line between paint and photograph

“If I want to paint your portrait, I’m painting it on you — physically on you. That also means you’re probably going to end up with an ear full of paint because I need to paint your ear on your ear,” says Meade in this extremely fun talk, given at TEDGlobal 2013. “The mask of paint mimics what is directly below it. In this way, I am able to take a three-dimensional scene and make it look like a two-dimensional painting.” “I could envision starting with a scene that Liu Bolin created, and then painting an impressionist-style painting directly on top,” says Meade. “The 3-D nature of the scene would become invisible and would be compressed into a 2-D painting.” In other words, it going to be pretty awesome.

Alexa Meade doesn’t paint on canvas. No, as she explains in today’s talk, she paints on something very different — human skin.

“Double Take.” Alexa’s beautiful, half-painted self-portrait. Copyright: Alexa Meade

In today’s talk, Meade tells us how she went from a political science major (who hadn’t picked up a paintbrush since summer camp) to a working artist with an unusual style that swirls paint and reality into a mind-bending remix. Her work, she says, began as a study of the ways in which shadows fall on the three-dimensional world, but has expanded into something so much more. “For a while, I focused on inanimate objects and created a number of still lifes,” Meade tells the TED Blog. “But I found the human form such a compelling subject that I began to focus on it.”

A look at “Head Trip” in progress. Copyright: Alexa Meade