Yesterday I looked through a book of costumes for the theater and came across a painting of a masked woman. Since I have not been happy with the portrait of my mother, I decided to add a mask. Just as in life, it covers a multitude of sins, but more importantly, it provides some mystery. My first mistake with the portrait was to have my mother smiling. Smiles have no place in portraits, unless they are evil, joker-like smiles.
It made sense to paint a portrait of my mother next. But when I saw it after the first day it made me feel a little sad. My mother when younger was an avid bowler and tennis player. In each of the three photographs I used to begin this painting she was a two-toned blonde. Recently she had to stop her volunteer work which consisted of holding premature babies at a local hospital. Her smile is similar to her mother’s (see below) with one side of her mouth slightly raised. The cat eye shaped glasses she had been wearing when photographed with my father at the Copacabana are now very much in vogue. Hers may even have had rhinestones attached. Both portraits (mother and daughter) are testaments to how older fashions are brought back to life with each new generation. There is obviously more to do here, and it would seem the logical thing to paint a portrait of my father next. Honestly, I am finding these family portraits to be some of the most difficult: memories, and the effects of time are constantly asserting themselves and I turn to reading to not think about the past. Because of the years of tumult, it was my immediate family that instilled a true sense of compassion within me and a desire to avoid all such turmoil in the future.
When I visited a gallery owner two years ago, he asked me why I didn’t paint people who were personally close to me. At the time, I said that history is important to me. But while painting Fighter A351 I began to feel bored. I have been influenced by the Buddhist Center in town, and my readings; I think I am ready to see myself in those closest to me. While painting my grandmother Rae, my mother’s mother, I saw my mother, my sister, my aunt and uncle, and myself. I worked from three different images of my grandmother. I chose the one from the 1960′s for the hairstyle. How was she able to balance that on her head? Memories came back to me of the fried chicken under heat lamps at the Woolworth’s on Lincoln Road in Miami where she took me as a child, as well as the beaded curtains she made for her Florida apartment. From the stories my mother told I have gathered that Rae was a wild one. My first version of her contains a worry line on her forehead but as I thought more about her I couldn’t remember her worrying much.
Today is the day my shipment of art supplies is arriving. Over 40 canvases, huge amount of colors, new palette knives-so excited I am having trouble focusing on painting. These are two portraits I am working on. The Dalai Lama is on twitter, so I am going to start following his posts. As it is I listen to his webcasts which keep me inspired at work.
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and that means it is almost time for Shadfest. This is my painting for this year’s auction to help raise money for scholarships for aspiring young artists. The original photograph can be found on the Library of Congress site. A search on Shad at LOC’s prints and photographs division brings up many other images as well.
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I emailed it, and posted it on facebook and twitter. But I forgot to put it here.
So far, these are my two favorite portraits of 2013. Other good news: JerseyArts has made me their March Artist of the Month
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I am slowly discovering the absurdities in Psychosurgery …, Freeman, Watts and Hunt’s book of 1942. One picture in it is a photograph of a patient’s belly. The author wonders why doctors have given her so many abdominal surgeries when what she really needs is a frontal lobotomy. This is my painting of the belly after a day’s work.
I wanted to begin adding more red to my paintings to express the anger I feel when I read about injustices, and inhumanity. Tomorrow I pick up the book Psychosurgery; intelligence, emotion and social behavior following prefrontal lobotomy for mental disorders by Freeman, Watts, and Hunt. I have also been seeking more information about the authors and found that GWU has their papers: so much more to learn and be angry about.