Instagram is a blessing and a curse. In this case it is a blessing as it led us to the amazing Angie Crabtree. She makes the most beautiful and modern paintings of diamonds. Her art definitely inspires us but close second is her adorable frenchie dog who makes many an appearance on her instagram. We got the chance to interview her for Gem Hunt and learn more about her process in some never before asked questions of this talented lady. If you are interested in the process of how she makes her amazing art - this is the interview for you.
How did you get into painting diamonds?
Painting has been my main focus since childhood, but nothing has intrigued me more than the first diamond I painted in 2013. Throughout high school and college, portraiture was one of my biggest interests, but over time it evolved into something less traditional. I experimented with orthodox iconography, classical and pop portraiture, and even medical illustration. Being a fan of nature, I often incorporated materials such as flora, 24 carat gold leaf, sugar crystals, and wood into my work. Now, painting diamonds allows me to combine portraiture and nature in a new way.
How do you choose a diamond to paint?
Choosing diamonds to paint isn’t easy because I see so many beautiful ones on a daily basis via instagram, google, or on inspirational field trips. I need to feel some type of connection with my subject. It could be the actual diamond, its history, or its owner.
Does it matter if a diamond is not flawless for your painting?
It depends. Sometimes I like to paint inclusions if it adds meaning to the piece, for example, if it’s an heirloom or antique diamond. Other times I prefer my painting to look as pure as possible. Either way, regardless of the quality of the diamond, I use artistic license to make adjustments as I go along.
What is the process after you find a diamond you would like to paint?
First, I study the diamond and create a small scale drawing to map out the facets. Then I make different mockups of how I might want to crop it, or shade it. Once I have a clear vision, I redraw it on the canvas and begin painting each facet from left to right in monochromatic tones. As it dries, I add several layers of colors using a classical glazing technique that was used in 17th century royalty portraiture.
All of my pieces are painted large and intricately, with much attention to the faceting, reflections and colors that make diamonds so mesmerizing. When I paint them, my fascination with geometry, kaleidoscopes, mandalas and mudras is brought to the surface. I lose myself in the repetition and patterns, and use both symmetry and asymmetry to maintain the balance. Although the process seems mathematical at times, it’s also very organic, which is the most relaxing part.
What is the hardest part of making your artwork?
The hardest part for me is practicing patience. It would be nice if they didn’t take so long to make, but that’s why they’re so special to me. This is not only due to the tedious process, but also waiting for the oil paint to dry in between layers. It can take days, sometimes weeks, before I can add more color on top. This is why I’m always working on multiple paintings. Sometimes I’m able to pace myself so that a few are finished at the same time, which is even more exciting. Sometimes the process feels like a rollercoaster, but it’s always worth it!