Saturday, May 28, 2016

Love, Honor, and Obey: Step by Step

It has been almost a year since I came home from Ventura, Ca. with a sheet of watercolor paper covered with torn newspaper.

In the back of my mind, I had an idea for painting a mid-century commentary about women for this sheet. Using a newpaper background suggest history to me: what was, rather than what is or will be. It's always a day or more later, right?

And I thought about a bride, and all the falderal  about getting married: the dress, the church, the audience, etc. And then the reality. Again, I'm thinking about the 1950's or so, before women were beginning to think about, want or demand changes in what was expected after marriage.

What happened after the magical day of marriage and the honeymoon?

I put veils of white gesso or acrylic paint over the newspaper. I didn't intend to have a viewer reading the torn pieces.





In my sketch, I had the iconic placement of the bride entering the church. I surrounded that with 4 windows to place some of the daily life of a married woman in the mid-century. Here you see her dusting. (this is a small study I taped on to see how it would work)










Next, I painted the bride. Notice that her expression is not exactly what you might expect. Is she questioning her future, her decision? Is she having cold feet? That is up to the viewer to decide.



After adding the details of the church, the doors, the stairs and windows, I thought about bringing the viewers interest up for a closer look. I searched the internet for old articles about being a "good wife." I found these articles both amusing and disturbing. I chose a few to collage on top and again used a veil of acrylic to make them fade into the background.








































After integrating all of these components, the piece sat in a drawer for a couple of months. Finally I came up with the finishing touches. I have placed a somewhat transparent older woman in the lower right-hand corner of the piece. To me she is looking into the past. Perhaps she is the bride, or was a bride like her. Other's have thought she is the mother or grandmother of the bride. What does she represent to you? What is she thinking? The finishing touch the painting was putting on the words, "Love, Honor, and Obey."



I'd love to hear your thoughts or reaction to the piece. As always, Comments are Welcome!

2 comments:

jwruther said...

For me (a mid-century bride), this painting invokes "the problem that has no name" that Betty Friedan identified in The Feminine Mystique." Here's what she wrote:

"THE PROBLEM LAY BURIED, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night—she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question—'Is this all?'" --Betty Friedan, 1963

jwruther said...

For me (a mid-century bride), this painting invokes "the problem that has no name" that Betty Friedan identified in The Feminine Mystique." Here's what she wrote:

"THE PROBLEM LAY BURIED, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night—she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question—'Is this all?'" --Betty Friedan, 1963