I can sum up February in two words: antibiotics and Treasure.
Antibiotics: Bun is urinary infection-free after we struggled to find antibiotics that didn't make her sick. The first was a brutal regime of 56 pills that made her sick every time we successfully got them in her. We switched to a second type--28 doses of a pink liquid in a rather hilarious cherry flavor (because everyone knows cats love stuff that is cherry flavored). This delightful concoction caused Bun to drool and foam uncontrollably for ten to fifteen minutes after Jeff squirted some down her throat, during which time I followed her around with a billowing handful of paper towels, sopping up the drool as she hustled from one room to another. Thanks to all who donated to Bun's medical fund and even sent her valentines. Jeff and I were blown away by your kindness and generosity.
Between my drool cleanup sessions, I painted and painted. This was the main reason why I haven't updated the blog in a while. I became obsessed with my unusual and challenging still life. It's another cluster of jewelry along with other items including an old photo of me as a baby. My mom put it in my birthday card back in late Janurary. I whimsically added the photo to my still life setup and loved the idea of painting a tiny girl surrounded by objects she would eventually own. I spent the first couple of days painting my baby self. My head is about the size of a nickel. I'm in my parents' dining room holding one of Dad's college books. I had trouble sleeping during this first week of painting--I found myself repeatedly waking up at 4:00 aching to get back to work on it.
Next I added most of my turquoise bracelet (I wore it everyday during my early teaching years), some coral beads, and an antique dragon that might be made of ivory, but I'm not sure. I like how the orange-red beads resemble fire shooting from its mouth. In real life the dragon is about an inch and a half tall. The painted version is about five times larger in this 20"x26" watercolor.
During one productive week, I finished the dragon and a lot of fussy jewelry in the lower left corner, including an antique orange bead necklace that was nothing but trouble! On our first Christmas together, Jeff gave me the swirly silver charm on the right.
I selected the jewelry pieces mainly because I liked the way they looked together, and the setup came together shockingly quickly. Some of the stories behind the jewelry are meaningful, and some are not. For example, one morning I was on my way to school when I noticed the beginnings of a wardrobe malfunction and needed something to pin myself together. I popped into a drugstore and bought the above purple pin for $4.95. It may have been cheap, but it took an entire day to complete. The orange beads run through the bottom half of the painting. They had many diamond-shaped facets and were difficult but fascinating to paint. I loved producing every bead in this painting, but the many connecty things here were a chore.
Not wishing to annoy my Facebook friends with daily in-progress photos where I had covered maybe a couple of square inches, I limited myself to Friday-only updates. The above photo shows some new objects: a sparkly gold charm that is the focal point of a statement necklace, most of a turquoise ring that is too heavy to wear while painting, and a perfume compact of a leaf with a dragonfly on it. Because the gold charm was so impossible, I couldn't make myself work on it all day, so during the afternoons I painted fun stuff. The dragonfly/leaf and the circular gold compact in the lower-left corner were gifts from my friend David, who is a makeup artist at Estee Lauder in Bergdorff Goodman, NYC. I bought the ring in Santa Fe, and the gold necklace is from some catalog or other.
The next week I finished the turquoise ring and dragonfly/leaf compact (that took a lot longer than I thought it would). Then I worked on the space above those two things. I referred to this area as "the little garbage."
Finally I painted the silver Eddington necklace, which I thought acted as a kind of fun signature, a pearl, and some more beads. Note the tiny chain draped over that red bead. Why didn't I think to hide it when I put this still life together? Those links were so impossibly small, even on a large-ish painting.
Last week I took care of the little items in the lower right corner, including a raspberry-shaped earring composed of small garnets. Most of the items here are resting on foil, except for those on the right side. You can see where the foil ends and the table begins. (If you click on the picture above, you can see the details more easily.)
I adore Venice and was happy to find the above matchbox at a local antique store. It shows the Ca' d'Oro ("Golden House") and was painted in a jazzy style that I had fun mimicking. The lettering and skinny black lines made me so nervous that I kissed my right hand after I finished them. I devoted the last day of painting to the turquoise chunks in the top right corner and tightening up the gold floral piece in the center.
For a while the working title of this painting was Treasure Chest, awesomely suggested by Jeff. A couple of weeks ago we decided to shorten it to Treasure. I liked that idea because it can be a noun and a verb. I'm so happy with the painting and think this could be a great new way for me to create portraits--a photograph of the subject surrounded by beloved objects--and I want to do more.
Prints of this brand new painting can be found here!
And I've put Treasure on tons of merchandise...
...and you can find it here!