Elevate Difference

100 Girls on Cheap Paper: Drawings by Tina Berning

100 Girls on Cheap Paper is, to put it simply, a beautiful collection of illustrations featuring women. As the title explains it, there are 100 different images. What the title does not explain, however, is the expressiveness found in each page. The artist, Tina Berning, creates lovely drawings in various media—watercolors, acrylics, ink, tempera—each mixture revealing a unique woman—the paper a mere platform, a second skin.

Tina Berning’s illustrations are accompanied by an intriguing introduction by Claudia Seidel, which makes the experience even richer. Flipping through the pages, it can be noted that 100 Girls on Cheap Paper is a mixture of fine art and fashion. Delicately drawn eyes peer enchantingly from portraits; seductive nudes draw attention to the simple beauty of the girls, the colors in the pages blend naturally, only to be transformed by the deliberate strokes used to create the image of what seems deliberately and effortlessly feminine.

Take one of the girls. Her head and neck are formed by thick strokes of paint along with fine lines that create her delicate features and expressive eyes. The thickness of black paint delineates the shadow that forms her hair and heavy eyelids. She has no body, she doesn’t need it, her neck and shoulders are mere support for her face, a face controlled by dominating eyes peering at the viewer. This particular girl is not framed by much color: the paleness of the paper, the dark strokes of black paint, her light blushing cheeks and a rich green light adorning the right side of her face are enough to convey one of the 100 expressive women Berning depicts. This is the creative agility with which Berning fills her book.

Other than noting the richness in color used, it is mesmerizing to find the pages filled with the faces of women staring back, their eyes narrating an individual story. Perhaps this making 100 Girls on Cheap Paper so enchanting and provocative; the fact is, as static as the paper the project is drawn on, Tina Berning creates a femininity that radiates with life on it.

Written by: Jessica Sánchez, October 22nd 2009