Sunday, 12 August 2012

Vin Gogh? Artist creates portraits using red wine

A New York artist has come up with a novel way of making the most of her leftover Cabernet Franc – using it to make portrait paintings. As reported on, using a wax resist, 29-year-old Amelia Fais Harnas pours six to seven layers of red wine on top of white cotton in order to achieve the light and shade effects. To ensure the wine dries quickly, Harnas, an avid wine lover, has to work at around 27°C, rotating between four to six portraits at a time.

She discovered how to make the portraits by melting dead candle remnants in a coffee can over a propane grill and painting the wax resist on cotton bed sheets with an old paintbrush. “The idea of painting with wine developed slowly over a couple of years. I wondered if wine could be used as a pigment for my portraits and started experimenting with Cahors,” she told Solent News. “I'd love to be able to say it happened by accident, where I spilled wine and saw Jesus's face in it, but it really resulted from a series of what-ifs.

“I enjoy the challenge of trying to control the unpredictable nature of wine bleeding through fabric in order to channel the equally imprecise nature of a person’s character,” she added. Her portraits, many of which incorporate religious iconography, have been exhibited in New York galleries and Finger Lakes producer Damiani Wine Cellars, whose Cabernet Franc-based Vino Rosso is almost exclusively used in the portraits due to its deep colour and low residual sugar content.

"I’m intrigued by what effect wine quality will have on the works, and plan on experimenting with all sorts of grape varieties and regions to see how the colour, residual sugar and tannin content affect stain penetration, she told The Huffington Post. As to how long the portraits will last, Harnas is unable to give an accurate answer, though believes their ephemeral nature adds to the intrigue.

"I’m doing everything in my power to ensure they last as long as possible, but part of the excitement is how fragile the works are,” she said. Her works sell for up to £650, depending on their size, with a 20" by 16" portrait requiring just one glass of wine. Harnas plans to move to Paris to work on miniature portraits using French wine.

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