We are often told to think outside the box. For most people thinking outside of any preconceived notion can be difficult, let alone the idea of creating anything outside of that notion. Alexa Meade is not most people. What began as an experiment in studying spacial relationships between light and shadows blossomed quickly into an art form where the artist eradicates any normal sense of a canvas and paints directly onto her subjects.

Her art takes the idea of tracing paper, blends that with the concepts of paint-by-number, adds a touch of performance art, and soon enough Meade is enhancing the pre-existing color scheme of her subject as if the entire world is her potential coloring book.

A video posted by Alexa Meade (@alexameadeart) on

She began with tracing existing shadows such as those that a fence draws on the grass, moved quickly to painting still life items such as a plate of sausage, egg, and toast — again, she actually paints on the subject, so in this instance there is a tangible plate of sausage, egg, and toast that Meade paints over in order to emphasize specific colors, textures, and shadows, ultimately resulting in a photograph that looks like a 2D painting — from there she moved to painting on a friend in an effort to study shadows, but very quickly realized she had stumbled onto something more robust than she had expected; people make for great canvases. (Forgive the elaborate run-on sentence. Read: our excitement.)

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The first time you see Meade’s art out of context, without knowing the mastery of her artful deception — if it is at all deception — your brain is almost fully aware that there is some heightened aspect at work. Looking at her pictures you can sense that what you are witnessing is far more than a highly stylized painting from a talented artist.

For obvious reasons Meade’s work has added depth. Especially since it is difficult for your brain to separate the painting from the photograph; the 2D from the 3D. This illusion allows her to play with multiple formats and painting styles, and play she does.

Browse through her Instagram profile and experience the many facets of her work. You should also watch her TED talk, and tour her house. We can not get enough.

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