I bought ten bottles of nail polish this week. I know, it’s a bit of a splurge, but after this week I deserve it (and they were on sale for super cheap). Plus I’ve been waiting a long time to expand my collection, so it’s not like I do this all the time. I love nail polish, and I have an extensive collection – forty-seven bottles. Yup, that’s a lot of nail polish. But as an artist, I find the colors incredibly inspiring. Having a plethora of color options is important. (You needn’t worry, most of these I’ve collected as gifts through the years. Some of them are quite ancient.)
My collection prior to the new additions.
I think my fascination with nail polish is closely tied to my artistic inclination and visual predominance. I love nail polish because it’s a socially acceptable form of painting on myself. It’s a form of decoration that is temporary – I can change it as often as I wish. Having a spectrum of nail polish allows me plenty of options for every occasion. Every color carries a different mood, and owning many choices allows me to mix and match for even more variety!
I think at this point I own all of the major colors. Because I’m admittedly a bit OCD I enjoy sorting my collection according to color. The best challenge is to try to line up every bottle in a color spectrum from one end to the other, fading from one color to the next as smoothly as possible. It looks pretty neat when I succeed.
This potential for color spectrum inspired a recent project in an art class. The assignment was to create a color wheel prior to exploring color theory. Naturally my nail polish collection sprang to mind. I went home and created a nail polish color wheel for reference, substituting bottles where I didn’t have the right hue.
As I created the reference shot and sketched my initial color wheel, I was intrigued by the wide variety of bottle shapes/styles. Some where round while others square, rectangular or triangular. Some had sharp angles while others gently curved with smooth planar transitions. Some bottles were stubby while others were tall. There were white caps, black caps, gray caps and chrome caps. The caps varied in height and circumference, some completely vertical while others widened toward the base. Our schema of a nail polish bottle tends to be pretty simple, but when you start to analyze their designs you realize how different each brand is!
In my nail polish color wheel I incorporated these bottle design differences, making them different shapes and sizes. The innermost bottles, the primary colors, I left without caps so that their “polish” might spill inward and run together. The secondary color bottles I included caps on, and made their caps slightly darker than those on the tertiary bottles, to subtly define the different tiers.
Because the focus of the project was on color, not value, I limited my use of shading, and instead gave the bottles faint highlights of white paint and shadows of black paint. I kept the lines crisp and clean, so as to barely hint at a glossy glass bottle.
A nail polish inspired color wheel. Unfortunately my camera was unable to faithfully capture the darker colors. The blue-green, blue-violet, and red-violet don't show well in this photo.