Brand new and extra-sparkly, here is my latest watercolor. It's the reason why you haven't been seeing painting posts from me over the past couple of months. This is a handful of my favorite jewelry on a piece of crumpled foil. It's loaded with sentimental value and...work. So much work!
Let's take a walk through it. But wait--don't have time to read? Please buy a print of it here! That's right, I'm putting a print link at the top this time. I really want you to have one.
Mom would recognize this--it's part of her Italian mosaic necklace that she let me wear when I was in second grade and most of my life. She officially gave it to me as a wedding present. When I was a kid, I used to study it when I was bored and wonder about the person who put those tiny pieces together.
The entire jumble of jewelry was around five inches across, but after I drew it on my watercolor paper, this mosaic alone was bigger than my face. It was also the first thing I painted after completing this monster commission, and I was giddy to be painting something new.
I added more items over the next few days. I bought the blue Murano glass earring from a street vendor in Rome eleven years ago. I think I paid about $12 for the set, and I wear them a lot. Next to it is a brooch I bought for Mom while I was in Venice. She let me borrow it a few years ago and I really should give it back to her. Its floral mosaic design is similar to the antique pendant I painted first. About half of the things in this painting are Italian in origin. The rest are antiques, cheap stuff from Etsy and Claire's, and a Navajo bracelet.
All of these pieces of jewelry are in the background of the painting, so to give it some depth I attempted to soften every edge. Things get especially blurry on the right side. Later on I surrounded the three floating blue blobs with golden, pearl-like balls similar to the ones you see around the more finished-looking blue blob.
The orange/pink/gold object on the left is a glass earring that reminds me of a disco ball. I loved the dark metal thing attached to it. My parents gave those to me for Christmas last year. They're a bit too heavy for my ears, so I don't wear them as much as I'd like (I don't want to become one of those women with deflated, stretched-out ear lobes.) Painting this earring took two days. I listened to Jimi Hendrix as I finished it, specifically his 15-minute version of Voodoo Chile over and over, and when I put my paintbrush down, I truly felt like a voodoo chile.
The ruby ring is an antique of unknown origin (I think it may have belonged to my great-grandmother). Most of the triangular prongs that hold the ruby in place have snapped off, so I had to invent them, but I kept the one at 3 o'clock the way it was--gone. It's too small for any of my fingers now except for my pinkies, but it's not really a pinkie kind of ring. I used to wear it on my right ring finger about 25 years ago and felt like Elizabeth Taylor because it is one big honking ruby. I'd love to have it reset and wear it again.
I added a gold wedding band that somehow found its way into my jewelry box, and to the right is part of a bracelet made with silver dollars and turquoise (most of it is obscured).
The ring is old, thin and scratched, and I wear it on my right hand a lot. I needed something to hold the now-finished ruby ring in place, and I had fun painting the colorful reflections. It felt bizarre to add so much red and purple to a gold ring, but I think it works.
This is a close-up of the silver dollar. The bracelet is Navajo. Sometimes they use coins in their jewelry, and the coins on this one were formed into dome shapes. The coin contains some of my trickiest wet-into-wet work, as I attempted to reflect the light and the other jewelry in a soft, blurry way.
Here's the dragonfly before I completed work on the wings. I bought this necklace at Macy's about 7 years ago during some post-breakup retail therapy. The dragonfly is silver in real life, but the warm light I had shining on it made it appear more golden, and it also warmed up the pearly-green wings on the right side.
And the crazy jewelry just keeps on comin'. Occupying the lower-left quadrant: a necklace Jeff bought for me when we were in Murano, an island near Venice. The artisans of Murano specialize in art glass, and this necklace features grape-sized metallic gold and blue beads. They reminded me of tiny globes, and since Jeff and I love to travel, I thought they were perfect and I really really wanted them. Jeff was sweet enough to indulge me. The necklace became a sort of nest for the rest of the jewelry.
After reaching a certain point in a painting, I can get kind of tired of taking daily photos of it. It's frustrating to remind myself that, yes, I've come a long way, but no, it won't be finished anytime soon. And so I tackle a new, small chunk each day, put the painting away, and do it again the next day without getting too precious about it. I just do the work.
This approach helped me complete the second disco ball-like earring above the dragonfly's wing, a rhinestone stud earring near the lower right, shadowy beads in the center, and a snowflake pendant on the right side. (I am crazy about the colors in that snowflake.) You can also see the silver dollar bracelet's wrist bands above that.
I finished it yesterday afternoon. I've had a lousy week otherwise--an excrutiating meeting with an elderly artist who just assumed I was Jeff's trophy wife, a medical test that will most likely result in me having to take more medical tests, and a buyer who decided he didn't want to pay for this painting after all (anybody want it?). And now I have this new painting that I think is beautiful, but as Elvis Costello said in a song I think about a lot when I'm down, What shall we do with all this useless beauty?
Well Elvis, we're going to make copies of it and attempt to sell them, and we're going to try to sell the original as well (contact me or leave a comment if interested in the original). My prints are identical to the originals, and you can get them in a wide variety of sizes, framed or unframed, on different kinds of paper and even on canvas. Nothing brightens my day like a sale, as awful and crass as that sounds, but sales help me continue to create these crazy things. Consider my print store this blog's tip jar. Please and thank you.
Also please give me a "like" on my Facebook art page. I update that with in-progress photos as I work on new projects, in case you'd like to watch those develop in real-time. Sorry for the begging, and thanks again.