• 01
    I took this photo of Lexi a year earlier in October 2009 while on a preschool class field trip to Stoney Ridge Farms. I chose it as my reference photo for the project because I really like that it captures her happy nature so well.
  • 02
    Next I drew her in Illustrator (computer program) using only six colors. Yeah, a lot of pink in there. Lexi loves pink. These were roughly the colors I had in mind, but I found out that the spray paint selection of colors was pretty limited. So I had to alter the pallet a little bit.
  • 03
    I separated out each of the six colors onto its own page. I had each of the pages printed out on a large printer and then I spray mounted each to a 40 inch by 30 inch piece of poster board. These became stencils, but not before I painstakingly cut out all of the gray areas. Each of these stencils were abstract enough by themselves that I would be able to conceal what it was that Lexi and I would be painting.
  • 04
    The first color we painted was light pink.
  • 05
    Here is what it looked like after the stencil was removed.
  • 06
    The second color was called “Watermelon.”
  • 07
    We did most of the painting in the field behind my pad in Everson. Lexi referred to this field as “the middle of nowhere.”
  • 08
    Lexi painted more than just our art project out in that field.
  • 09
    Done painting the second color.
  • 10
    Here’s what our canvas looked like after the first two colors. Notice the run in the lower left corner. Lexi’s spray painting skills at this point still needed a bit of refinement. Fortunately, this run would be covered up by later colors.
  • 11
    Ready for color number three.
  • 12
    Color number three was called “Raspberry.” I ended up painting this one by myself because Lexi didn’t wake up from her nap in time and I wanted to get it painted before it got dark out.
  • 13
    Three colors down, three to go.
  • 14
    Color number four was purple. I couldn’t find a purple that I was happy with, so I bought a light purple, a darker purple, and a blue. The idea was to subtly layer them to custom mix the color of purple I was looking for. Lexi helped with the light purple as the base color and then became distracted by more interesting things. It was just as well. I let her do her own thing while I carefully mixed the color of purple I was after. I also added a layer of clear sparkle paint over top of the purple.
  • 15
    When she learned about my strategy for this session, she wanted to do some color mixing experiments herself. So that’s exactly what she did.
  • 16
    Here’s what our art project looked like with four colors painted.
  • 17
    Here's stencil number 5 on the canvas, ready for black paint. After the first color, I didn’t let Lexi see the canvas without a stencil over the artwork until the very end. She seemed fine with this. She didn’t ask any questions and I didn’t offer any unnecessary information about the nature of out little project together.
  • 18
    Color number five was black. This painting session was on a cold night in Sheen’s carport.
  • 19
    Here it is with only one more color to go.
  • 20
    The sixth and final color was white. Here is the stencil on the canvas before we painted.
  • 21
    Lexi painting the white. By this time she had a pretty good sense of spray painting thing. The handle attachment I got for for the spray paint can made these last two colors easier for her too.
  • 22
    Here it is, the finished piece. I was relieved (and a little surprised) that all of the colors lined up as well as they did. I estimate I put in between 40 and 50 hours on this project over a three week period. Our painting sessions were between 15 and 30 minutes long for each color.
  • 23
    To me this project became more about the process than the finished piece. As fantastic as it turned out, my joy came from the anticipation and then actualization of Lexi’s reaction when I finally revealed the finished piece to her and she recognized that she had been painting herself all along. She’s seeing the finished piece for the first time in this video still.
  • 24
    Lexi’s reaction when she recognized herself after I took off the final stencil was priceless. I love this little girl like crazy and look forward to many more art projects together.
  • 25
    I had Lexi sign her name on the back of the canvas. Sheen suggested that she write the date too. For some unknown reason Lexi put a period between the 1 and 0 when writing the ten for October. I stopped her at that point because I realized that she had just inadvertently come up with the perfect name for the piece. So, that’s how the title “Alexis 1.0” came about.
  • 26
    Here are the used stencils from the project. It looks like I have the white one turned upside down. Oops. It was surprisingly difficult for me to put these into the recycling bin because of my emotional attachment to the project, but I just don't have the extra space to keep them around. This photo will have to suffice.