Alexa Meade takes an innovative approach to art. Not for her a life of sketching and stretching canvases. Instead, she selects a topic and then paints it—literally. She covers everything in a scene—people, chairs, food, you name it—in a mask of paint that mimics what’s below it. In this eye-opening talk Meade shows off photographs of some of the more outlandish results, and shares a new project involving people, paint and milk.



  • canvas – a strong, coarse unbleached cloth made from hemp, flax, cotton, or a similar yarn, used to make items such as sails and tents and as a surface for oil painting
  • flicker – (of light or a source of light) shine unsteadily; vary rapidly in brightness
  • foresee – be aware of beforehand; predict
  • in the end – eventually
  • flux – continuous change, passage, or movement


Think about it

Answer the questions below.

  • What is unusual about Alexa Meade’s paintings? (pause @ 0:33)
  • Does Alexa Meade edit her paintings in image editing software? (pause @ 1:13)
  • How did Alexa come up with the idea of turning people into paintings? (pause @ 3:39)
  • Why was Alexa conflicted about her career path at a certain point? (pause @ 3:03)
  • How did Alexa learn to paint? (pause @ 4:56)
  • What was the difficulty of painting in milk and how did Alexa and Sheila cope with this? (pause @ 6:13)
  • Would you like Alexa to paint a picture of you?


Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words. Use ONE word per blank space.

What I do in my art is I skip the canvas altogether, and if I want to paint your portrait, I’m painting it ____ you, physically on you. That also means you’re probably going to end ____ with an earful of paint, because I need to paint your ear ____ your ear. Everything in this scene, the person, the clothes, chairs, wall, gets covered in a mask of paint that mimics what’s directly below it, and in ____ way, I’m able to take a three-dimensional scene and make it look ____ a two-dimensional painting. I can photograph it from any angle, and it will still look 2D. There’s no Photoshop here. This is just a photo ____ one of my three-dimensional paintings.


Fill in the blank spaces with the correct forms of the words in CAPITAL LETTERS.

You might be wondering how I came up with this idea of turning people into paintings. But ____ ORIGINAL, this had nothing to do with either people or paint. It was about shadows. I was ____ FASCINATION with the ____ ABSENT of light, and I wanted to find a way that I could give it ____ MATERIAL and pin it down before it changed. I came up with the idea of painting shadows. I loved that I could hide within this shadow my own painted version, and it would be almost ____ VISION until the light changed, and all of a ____ SUDDENLY my shadow would be brought to the light.


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