Friday, August 14, 2015

Katherine Chang Liu's Ventura Artists' Retreat--A Place to Grow and Mature as an Artist:Untitled Part II

The second painting I completed in Ventura has a backstory and is related to two previously painted works. To give you an idea of how an idea cultivates in my mind, I have to return to a specific time and date in a Seattle hospital. An image engulfed me one evening as I walked into my daughter's hospital room where she lay covered with a beautiful blanket. Someone else may have viewed her as vulnerable and bald. I looked at her and saw a Gustav Klimpt painting. This vision stuck with me through several months until I was back home in my studio. I really knew very little about Klimpt, and this was before the movie, "Woman in Gold." I enjoyed reading, looking at his work, and digging into his place in art history before beginning the three "Rachel Klimpted" pieces.

Enduring the Cure
30" x 22," Gouache on gold gessoed paper

This piece to the right is the first one I painted, shortly after returning home. Rachel was just beginning her recovery. This painting is full of my symbolism and an expression of my own feelings of helplessness and vulnerability throughout that time.

Time passed and I decided to try another painting using a brighter approach with more mixed media. Again I painted on watercolor paper coated with gold gesso. I had fun with this painting. I liked creating the animal fur background (a commonly used item by many painters from Klimpt's period) and painting the small portraits of Rachel's children.

I arrived at Ventura with the idea to paint a third "Rachel Klimpted," but this time, she would be as she is today, upright, beautiful and with hair. I wanted to paint her in the style of glamorous portraits done by Klimpt himself, but with my own symbols and icons. With some sage advice from Katherine Chang Liu , I managed my way through this painting; I even attempted gold leaf for the first time, which is very tedious and exacting. (I assume I would get better with practice.) Mosaics were an inspiration to Klimpt, so that came into play in this piece. By painting the figure with the arm over head and the slight tilt to the head, I connected this figure with the two previous paintings. Here are some symbolic parts to this work: bare feet, unfinished mosaic, path-like mosaic, Van Gogh's sunflowers. There was a lot of joy in creating this piece. I hope to paint one or two more on this theme.

I feel compelled to finish with a disclaimer: this is not a portrait. This figure does not "look" like my daughter. None of my work is portraiture, but rather figurative art, "any form of modern art that retains strong references to the real world and particularly to the human figure."


Ruth Armitage said...

I am so glad to see you tackle this subject in yet a different way. Your palette reflects the transition that Rachel has made!

Anonymous said...

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE this series. Margaret, you are so dang talented at converting your vision to paper!!! I love the emotion in these pieces. Such inspired and inspiring work!