These nails, my entry toward’s day 27’s theme of artwork in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge, may require a bit of explanation, as they’re slightly more conceptual in nature than usual. When I was in high school, I spent a couple of weeks one summer baby-sitting eight-year-old twin boys. One morning we biked downtown to the National Gallery to take in a bit of air conditioning and culture. One of the big draws at the Gallery then – and indeed, to this day – was the Voice of Fire, an abstract painting by American artist Barnett Newman that proved to be quite the controversial acquisition. Purchased as part of the Gallery’s permanent collection in 1989 for $1.8 million, the Voice ignited a firestorm of controversy surrounding mismanagement of taxpayer dollars in the arts (I’m sure it wouldn’t have been such an issue were the painting more than three vertical stripes on a canvas), while igniting that other age-old, endlessly debated question of how we measure a work of art’s true value. All anyone could really agree on was that there wasn’t much there – seriously, two acrylic blue stripes with a red stripe in the middle, standing about 213 inches tall.
The boys and I got to the Gallery that day just as the doors were opening, and we were the only ones in the cavernous room where the Voice of Fire is housed, but for one seriously unimpressed guard (do they come in any other variety?) The gallery where the Voice hangs is gigantic and bare – it is the dominant centerpiece of the room. As we approached the painting, dwarfed by its towering blue and red stripes, I bent down and asked the boys how much they thought the Gallery had paid for it. Knowing that it must have been a lot based on the way I asked the question, they came back with what was a lot for them – 1,000, 10,000, 100,000? No freakin’ way they paid over 100,000 for that! When I bent back down and stage whispered, “Nearly $2 million” there was this weird, loaded pause as the boys looked at each other, and then they burst out laughing, the sound echoing in the cavernous room like twin shotgun blasts, before falling on the floor in a fit of “adults are so stupid!” The guard, who surely had seen this kind of behaviour before – I refuse to believe the twins were the first, since I pretty much wanted to get down there and roll around myself – was not terrifically amused, so I hustled the guys on out of there, but they continued snickering throughout our gallery visit, and had a lot to tell their dad at the end of the day about how they were going to go up to their bedroom and dash off a couple of Voice of Fires for pizza money. Heh.
So these nails are a representation of that day – the Voice of Fire, standing tall in all its overpriced simplicity, surrounded by bare white walls and laughter.
Right, so these nails might look a bit more Eye of Sauron than I had originally contemplated. This manicure, which I did at the behest – the BEHEST, I tell you! – of day 24’s theme of books in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge, is supposed to be the rainbow-hued rip in the fabric of time that a plane of passengers encounters in the 1990 Stephen King novella, The Langoliers. King employs a lot of his favourite linguistic tropes in describing the time rip (“It filled his mind, his nerves, his muscles, his very bones in a gigantic, coruscating fireflash” and “The place where life is freshly minted every second of every day; the cradle of creation and the wellspring of time”) but the bottom line is it’s gigantic, lined with flashing rainbows and if you fly through it, well…I won’t spoil this 25-year-old story for anyone, but it’s a Stephen King tale, so go in knowing that at least 60 percent of your favourite characters will die horribly. Happy reading!
Ming vase-inspired nails for day 26’s theme of a pattern in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge. Simple (just two polishes applied with a detail brush) but fussy! And as always with highly detailed, free-handed designs, time-consuming, but in a good way. 🙂
Dope Jam, that is, a new, ultra vibrant addition to Enchanted Polish’s stellar line of holographic lacquers. All the usual greats about Enchanted’s polishes apply to Dope Jam, although I’m plum stuck on the meaning of the name. Maybe because once you’ve worn this totally dope polish, it’ll thereafter be your jam? Just spit-balling here.
So the formula’s great, but let’s talk about the colour. Gorgeous, right? I’m – *groan* – enchanted. I’m usually not the biggest fan of nearly neon, orchid-hued purples like this one, but the blue undertones in Dope Jam keep it on the right side of flattering for ultra pale skinned lasses like me. I actually think this is one of those polishes that would look great on a wide variety of skin tones, but who doesn’t look better when their fingernails are flashing more purple rainbows than a papier-mâché unicorn on a Pride parade float?
NO ONE f**ks with The Block, ya hear? Oh my gosh, you guys, I loveity love love Attack the Block, a British creature feature released in 2011 to tons of critical acclaim and regrettably little fanfare. Starring a bunch of foul mouthed and nearly unintelligible kids you’ve never heard of (excepting John Boyega, who is probably best known these days as “the black Stormtrooper” from the new Star Wars films), Attack chronicles one chaotic night in one of London’s most impoverished and dangerous East End neighbourhoods and the mini gangbangers who rule its streets. Or ruled – the power structure that governs the cluster of low income towers known as The Block gets upended mightily one night when aliens descend and the boys go on the defensive.
Oh man, and the aliens themselves are SOOOOO well done. I respect the crap out of practical special effects in film, and but for a little CGI polish, the eyeless, loping, needle-toothed, alien-gorilla-wolf-motherf**kers are 100 percent dude-in-a-suit, and I freaking LOVE IT. So when day 23’s theme in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge called for nails inspired by a movie, I decided to get my own brand of practical effect on and honoured the B-L-O-C-K (*brruup brruup!*) with these nails that, like the movie monsters that inspired them, have actual blue, glow-in-the-dark teeth. I am so proud of this perfect little touch, I wanna tool up, grab my bangers and hit Ron’s weed room. 😉 Or perhaps I’ll settle for another viewing – it’s been a while. A small note for newbies, though: Turn on the subtitles. Unless you speak degenerate East End shithead, you’ll be lost.
Last Sunday’s Emmys brought all the usual fashion choices to the yard (and Gwenyth’s, like, “My cape’s better than yours.”) Mostly, I find that award show red carpets bring the beautifully predictable – the naked dress, the gossamer ballgown, the men’s-style pantsuit, the jewel-toned mermaid. I may have just described nearly all of the outfits that made their way down the Emmys red carpet last week – pretty, but also pretty boring.
There was one dress, though, by designer Naeem Khan and worn by Ellie Kemper (of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which is so weird and irreverent and sweet and funny and why are you not watching it on Netflix right now?) that I just adored, and so I chose it as the inspiration for these nails that I did in service of day 25’s theme of fashion in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge. Ellie Kemper is just the cutest, pluckiest thing ever (I can’t help but think that in real life she and Kimmy are actually quite a lot alike) but she sells the hell out of this slinky, 1970s-style number – the tailoring is exquisite, and she carries what has to be a 30 pound dress with admirable ease (all those sequin chevrons = heavy.) You can see a photo of the dress (and Ellie Kemper!) here, once again courtesy of the fine ladies of Go Fug Yourself (who were likewise wowed – hard not to be; this dress is fabulous, and I think these nails are, too!)
Semi-embarrassing musical confession: About a decade ago, I was hopelessly in love with the ultra theatrical screamo band My Chemical Romance. I say semi-embarrassing because I was perhaps a tad too old to be rockin’ out among the teens who were their core audience, and also because no matter how much I loved their Queen-tinged brand of super dramatic, high concept rock (The Black Parade is an entire album about cancer, for pity’s sake), they were cheesy. Oh my gosh, so cheesy. Although that didn’t stop me from adoring them for at least a couple of years there, and their show I saw in support of The Black Parade ranks right up there as one of one my all-time great concert experiences. They were magnificent, and of that I really shouldn’t be too embarrassed.
Day 22’s theme in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge was inspired by a song, and I chose the Rose Bowl parade in hell that is The Black Parade, an ash-covered, dystopian nightmare about encroaching death. Cheery AND cheesy are My Chemical Romance – and I wouldn’t want them any other way.
Yay, look at me finally entering the last 10 days of inspired-by prompts in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge! And only six days off the pace, too. I’m pretty sure that’s as close as I’ve come to being in step with the daily themes since the beginning of the challenge (actually, I think the real challenge will be completing nine manicures by the end of September!)
Day 21’s theme was inspired by a colour. For this manicure, I drew inspiration from Enchanted Polish’s Dope Jam, an ultra vibrant, orchid-hued holo that looks exactly like the Cheshire Cat, particularly when paired with horizontal stripes in another gorgeous Enchanted lacquer, purple “mystery” holo August 2015. I then made at least some of the Cat appear on my thumb, or at least the important parts – those giant, unsettling yellow eyes and the creepy smile. Wouldn’t be the Cheshire Cat without ’em. 🙂
Also, how awesome do these holographic stripes look in the sun? I am powerless in the face of a good horizontal stripe, and these are pretty Dope (Jam.)
Bah-dum *ching*! A little spa humour for you there. But for real, cucumber water (that mint and cucumber-infused water you’re sometimes served at spas or beauty salons) is heaven on earth. Like refreshment plus plus. Also, anything to sex up a boring old glass of water, yes?
Day 20’s theme in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge was the dreaded old water marble, nemesis of just about all but a few gifted nail artists. Cripes, it is a technique that is just BEYOND a pain in the arse, is it not? My MO (which I forget every time I attempt to water marble, resulting in multiple go-rounds) is to work WITH my water marbling limitations, which means confining my designs and colour choices to shimmery, tone-on-tone turquoises and watery, wave-type designs. That way, the uneven designs and bitty little bubbles look like they were on purpose, like water in a bubbling brook, and not just because I totally suck at water marbles!
Then, because I both had to cover up a bit of overzealous clean-up AND because I’ve been sitting on that spa water idea for what feels like forever now, I decided to add a couple of little Fimo mint leaves and a cucumber to my index finger – the perfect refreshing touch for this very imperfect watery (marble) mani.
Although I created these gorgeous, shimmery nails for day 17’s theme of glitter in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge, I suppose they’d just as easily work for the upcoming theme of inspired by a song – or two songs, specifically Britney Spears’ I’m a Slave 4 U and Toxic. Remember those glittery nude bodysuits she wore? And the insane round of pearl-clutching her videos set off? WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?! Britney wasn’t ever my favourite, but still, to go back to a simpler time when pop stars would just hint at nudity and not, you know, actually get naked (yes, I’m a total fuddy duddy about that kind of stuff – if you have even an ounce of musical talent, you shouldn’t feel the need to get your tits – and other stuff – out at all hours of the day.) Hmm, although now that I think about it, Britney wore both of those diamond-encrusted nude suits in service of two iconic performances (one stage, one video) – neither was tied to the content of those songs (which, if I recall my Britney correctly, is mostly just a lot of panting, moaning and Auto-Tune.) So I guess we’ll stick with the generic glitter day 17 initially contemplated and leave the music for another day.
These nails were super duper easy, although the glitzy, finished product looks like one of those manis that would cause you to rip out all your hair in frustration. I started by laying down two light coats of Picture Polish’s Cherish, a pale nude creme speckled with holographic shimmer. I then dabbed on a couple of coats of Finger Paints’ Colorful Collage, a silver holographic glitter, right at the base of my cuticles, extending it down ever so slightly in a brushed-on gradient. Then, dolloping out a few dabs of Colorful Collage onto a clean paper towel (you need to get rid of the excess clear base), I picked up the slightly tacky bits of glitter, one at a time, with the pointed end of an orangewood stick before depositing them onto my nails in random, trailing lines. Et voila, dripping diamonds – supposedly a girl’s best friend. 😉