Caroline Zurmely’s nail polish paintings summon life onto the canvas through an unlikely tool
In love with the aesthetic of enamel paint pens but limited by the colour choice, Caroline landed on an unlikely material to bring her 90’s-inspired paintings to life.
The RISD graduate grew up in Dallas, Texas, and in her words “was always making things”. From an early age, she was interested in enamel paint pens and would use them in her still life of toiletries while also making work from old towels. Limited by the colour options, she had the crazy idea to try to emulate the style using nail polish. “It was one of those ideas that came to me when I was falling asleep, and I woke up so eager to try it and I haven’t stopped,” she tell It’s Nice That.
Caroline’s paintings are drenched with the kind of nostalgia that can immediately be pinned to the 90s. She finds that limiting the subject matter lets her focus on “nailing the usage of the material”. In her zoomed-in paintings, dots of luminous white reflect the flash-lit frenzy that a celebrity sighting would inspire, while the grainy muted tones betray the technical limitations of the time. Alice says that, overtime, these paintings have gotten more detailed. She’s even taken to using her own photos, but she’ll “always love the hunt that’s part of searching on the internet”.
Caroline Zurmely: Knees (Copyright © Caroline Zurmely, 2021)
About the Author
Roz (he/him) joined It’s Nice That for three months as an editorial assistant in October 2022 after graduating from Magazine Journalism and Publishing at London College of Communication. He’s particularly interested in publications, archives and multi-media design.