The inspiration for this painting came to me in Ventura, CA, last July. I wanted to paint about a specific memory of mine and had an idea that I wasn't sure how to express on paper. I wanted a row of women, but was not clear on how I might do that, nor how the rest of the painting might fit together. I don't know whether it is synchronicity or coincidence or Big Magic, but soon after my idea started brewing, I came across this image of Gustav Klimpt's Beethoven frieze. If Klimpt could do it, I could borrow the idea. Viola, I had the beginnings of this painting.
In early December I actually started drawing out my ideas. A row of women wearing identical navy blue polka dot dresses. They are shopping, all with identical shoes in hand. A little girl is running toward them.
And then it came to putting it all on a full sheet of watercolor paper. I had so much to block out and save to get the depth of color I wanted in the dresses. I used contact paper, tape and masking fluid before applying any paint.
Then I began the process of layering blue after blue after blue. Each layer has to dry completely before pouring on the next. I have learned to adjust the color as I go, adding reds or yellows to the intense blue to get just the right navy blue.
I must say there were many issues and corrections I had to make with this painting. First, I had a severe masking failure because I used very old clumpy fluid. (Just a small issue that comes with living an hour from town. I didn't want to give up studio time to go by new!)
Once I got that far, I had to peel off and begin to paint. My intentions were to make this a transparent watercolor painting, but that was ended by the masking fluid failure and I had to move on to gouache to regain the skin of my figures.
I did want a flat painting and really limited my using any dimensional means to tell this story.
At this point I had only given the little red sweater some dimension by making it a cable knit. You'll notice that the flooring is totally flat: I did not add any slant or perspective to it. I was now needing to decide "to face or not to face" the woman.
I tried subtle eyes, nose, and mouths; but even though I tried to make them look alike (my intention) they all had subtly different personalities.
Away went those faces and I settled on the half faces with lips that you see below. Then, while on our trip to SE Asia, I came to grips with the last needed details, a sale sign and shoe tags, which I added just a couple of weeks ago. The painting is now finished. I really want to know if it brings up a memory or a story within you, my reader. Please send me the story this painting tells to you. I will reveal my story in the next post! I'm also waiting for the right title. My working title is "Into a Sea of Polka Dots."