My newest painting has off-the-charts sentimental value for me because it's my mother's jewelry. Mom has had the same jewelry box for decades, and one of my favorite pastimes as a girl was to open it up and look at her pins, necklaces, and earrings. In the top right corner is a spectacular pin that used to belong to Grandma Bradshaw. It's the sparkliest thing I've ever tried to paint, and the stones have a shimmery rainbow appearance that were just so watercolory. And then in the lower right corner is an opened heart-shaped locket. Inside are black and white newspaper photos of a teenage Mom and Dad--she put those in there when she was 14!
The title for this one is Daughter Mother Father because the cameo pin appears to be kissing the locket, and its face and hair looks almost exactly like mine in my self-portrait from years ago. I'm so grateful to have such wonderful, supportive parents, and I love them very much.
I took dozens of photos of Mom's jewelry (and also some of my sister's makeup and jewelry) over the 4th of July weekend. The family converged on Poof and Tyler's house, and Poof took a couple of photos of me constructing one of my crazy little still-life setups in her office. Jeff came in and provided a much-needed extra set of hands and general cuteness. Don't know what I'd do without you, Jeff!
Soon enough, it was time to get to work on this 16"x20" painting. I started with a purplish rose pin before moving on to a silver rose earring that always looked uncomfortable with its pointy leaves and screw-in back (but worth it because it's so fancy). Then I began a red bead necklace that Mom used to let me wear when I was little, followed by a cameo pin.
Two painting sessions later: my parents were inside the gold locket, and I added a few more beads. Everything about the locket was difficult. The photos inside were (a) miniscule, (b) blurry, and (c) newspaper halftone quality, i.e. made with a series of dots. I thought about painting with dots but nixed the idea because the faces were so small and I am a human being, damn it!
Interestingly, Mom's side of the locket is at an angle, and the foreshortening involved meant that Mom's face would be slimmer than if I had painted it straight on, if that makes sense. As I painted her 1-inch face at an angle, I was surprised by how closely she resembles her granddaughter Ashley.
The photos were cut out with scissors over 50 years ago--each has slightly irregular edges that I included here. The locket itself is reflecting nearby red beads, and 90% of its colors posed complicated mixing problems. Needless to say, I was glad when this part was finished!
And then as is so often the case with me, I disappeared for a week or so, put my nose to the grindstone, and finished the thing without taking photos. I needed to wrap this up before the end of July. I saved Grandma Bradshaw's extrasparkly pin for last, and it took DAYS to finish. I'm so happy with the end result, but its complexity really tried my patience, and the looming deadline made it worse. Now that I've scanned and framed it, I can finally get going on the many little things that a person must do during the days before an art show: making lists, framing, writing title cards, and on and on. BUT AT LEAST THIS IS DONE AND I AM FREE!
Information about my Decatur show is here! If you're in central Illinois, I hope you can attend my opening reception on August 9. My fabulous sister will be there along with beloved family members and supercool friends!