At first glance, this painting is meant to be aesthetically beautiful, but I wanted it to work on a symbolic level too. I have surrounded Nikki with personal symbols. I am addressing her heritage with the inclusion of textile patterns in the background, but I was also thinking of Gustave Klimt’s beautiful use of patterns when I opted to gild them. Her job as a flight attendant is a big part of her identity as well, thus, for this portrait, she pinned flowers in her hair in the fashion she learned on the job, a subtle clue to her profession. The cherry blossoms are part of her annual tradition of enjoying cherry blossom season. She travels to Japan many times every year so they are a dual symbol of her lifestyle of travel and also her Japanese heritage. Nikki is a caring and devoted mother (symbolized by the 3 calla lilies), and calla lilies are also a symbol of beauty, describing both her outer beauty and her thoughtful, considerate personality.
Within my choice of plants, I have used and the soft color palette to set a tone of nurturing and calm, It is my hope that the viewer gets a feeling for her personality. I do not expect anyone to understand every nuance, but they are designed to set a tone.