Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Telling My Story in Art: Borrowing and Struggling

Yes, I know, all my art tells something about me. But this is different. I am now actually painting memories of my own human life. And now I am brave enough to let me be a human figure, not a heron or salmon or rock or rapid.

Gustav Klimt - Beethoven frieze (detail) 01The 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."


Anonymous said...

I really love this piece (altho the child figure does make me sad) and I like the story of how you got here. It's also interesting because I am at the same point in my own artwork, moving into expressing a concept in ways I've haven't used before. Do you suppose it's the influence of the book? or does the book come into our hands at the moment we are open to these new ideas?

hugs!! Sandy

Anonymous said...

"Are you my mother? " Janice