More often than not, my subjects are a mystery to me when in the process of either sketching or painting them. It is only after I’ve finished a piece when I then go online to acquaint myself with my subject – along with the creatives behind the photo.
Elisa, Photographed by Angelo Pennetta for W Magazine.
This watercolor came by way of a tribute to Karl Lagerfeld which is featured in the current issue of W . Photographer Angelo Pennetta – whose work is lauded worldwide – is seemingly a private man… Stylist Sara Moonves, in an inspired move, lent her own veil to Elisa Sednaoui. While Elisa Sednaoui, I learned, began her own foundation in 2013 which allows children from both Bra, Italy and Luxor, Egypt to discover the world and power of the arts. Now that’s remarkable!
Elisa Sednaoui in Chanel
Rather recently I had a musing of combining a strong female face to be painted in Payne’s Grey and black and then superimpose a vividly colored floral over it. But, whose face?
I’ve seen many images of model Ruth Bell. I just didn’t know know that I had…
Not until the June/July 2019 issue of Harper’s Bazaar had arrived. In its editorial titled “The New Florals”*, photographer Sebastian Kim is brilliant in harmonizing the setting with saturated patterned fashions which don’t diminish Ruth’s presence in the least. Better yet, my search for the face I wanted was found after seeing Ruth Bell hold her own in a bold Balenciaga kimono.
Sebastian Kim photo of Ruth Bell, Harper’s Bazaar
I then scoured Ruth Bell’s [hopefully, to be forgiven] Instagram and fell for a shot of her, wonderfully unplugged…
Ruth Bell, Watercolor 2019
*I’d feel derelict if I did not give mention to the fantastical location, being “Quesalcoatl’s Nest” in Naucalpan, Mexico. This oasis was designed by architect Javier Senosian.
Just last month I had posted my rendering of Dorothea McGowan, in which she was crowned in flowers… There is actually a veritable Candyland out there of Sixties era McGowan photo shoots. Among them, a stunning vignette which is credited as photographed by William Bell. Other than his many other credits when he had worked for Vogue magazine, I had no luck in finding out more about the man.
In this [primarily] oil pastel piece, I knew I could only try to capture the overall mood. Also, there is no monkey to be found in the photo which I worked from. Of course that didn’t prevent me from adding one.
As I was sketching Dorothea, otherwise known as Dorothy McGowan, I saw her wide set eyes as similar to Katie Holmes’. Odd, because I rarely think of Katie Holmes… The photo I sketched from was taken by Irving Penn. My father, who had worked as a commercial photographer, did not have the highest opinion of Irving Penn. Why? I’ll never know.
All said, I’m just nuts for floral crowns. Adding the purple-blue and yellow was felicity on my part.
6″ x 8″, Water soluble oil pastels and color pencils.
While digging through my bulging folder of coveted images, I rediscovered a beautiful editorial for Vogue’s September 2015 that had been shot by Mikael Jansson.
Grabbing a piece of sketch paper, not quite 6” x 9”, I started throwing down some oil pastels and colored pencils – both being water soluble. The result, I mostly happy with it. Regrettably, I hadn’t scaled this to fit the model’s feet – nor can I find her name!
Valentino Couture Through Mikael Jansson’s Lens
The original editorial in W’s #2 2019 issue had model Rianne Van Rompaey with super sized lacquered hair. If my version is a slight to stylist Grace Coddington’s vision, I beg forgiveness. Craig McDean’s photos are beguiling – and I was hooked. (The clothing, primarily Valentino.)
To stay nearly true to the lighting I wound up using some of my student grade colored pencils, with a light wash and a dash of semi-soft pastels for the background.
Rianne Van Rompaey in Valentino
Last year while shopping used books, I happened upon one entitled: “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations”.
To be more exact, this book is the catalog from the Metropolitan’s 2012 exhibition. Whenever buying a museum catalog, there are rarely previews of its contents. Priced at “a steal” level, I was stunned when it arrived; both the quality and quantity of images within are curated with imaginative consideration.
This sketch was done from a photo by Regina Relang in 1938. I do love “Persian Lamb” – as seen in this Elsa Schiaparelli jacket in its collar, cuffs, and gloves. [To be really forthcoming, I didn’t know what that curly black fabric was called until I researched it, mid-sketch!]
Schiaparelli Ensemble 1938
The ability to imagine is a vital asset to us all. While not everyone uses this power for good, and then some very sadly don’t have access to its benefits, our imagination is the first step towards change and understanding and progress.
Generally speaking, I don’t share my personal woes with the virtual world. Yet, and with few exceptions, 2018 felt like one woeful day after another. Spring, Summer, and Fall seemed to simply pass me by… Like a year with nothing but a Winter of fear and discontent.
However, I am stubborn. No matter how bad things were, I remained committed each day in creating one thing or another. Such is the powerful force of art.
This year, now soon reaching to the next, I pay tribute to a variety of the Arts – by way of these muses. They are the graces of the written word, music & dance, and visual creations. Furthermore, they are also my saving graces.
As are all of you! Happy Holidays!!
In the mid-Sixties, twenty year old German countess Vera Gottliebe Anna Gräfin von Lehndorff-Steinort was transformed into the now legendary model known as Veruschka. Photographer Richard Avedon, who I recall as that era’s Annie Leibovitz [as in “you know you’ve arrived if you’re posing for…”] produced many of his fashion iconic images with Veruschka. The stunning photo below was taken during Avedon’s tenure at Vogue.
Richard Avedon photo of Veruschka, 1967
My own take on that photo became a kind of neon negative, done in gouache and watercolor:
For the sartorial minded September is the month that releases brick-heavy issues from Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle. Furthermore, these September magazines are usually abundant with pages and pages for my own inspiration. But what is going on for 2018?! All I could see was a deluge of extremes. Puffy coats on steroids. Gym wear, ala haute couture. And, really?! A revival bringing the worst of the Eighties.
Yet, Marie Claire’s September offered some redemption. And it came by way of an editorial [no kidding!] titled “State of Grace”. Photographer Robert Nethery uses an exquisite flood of light in his work, so that model Tasha Tilberg appears beautifully near-translucent.
“There is a great strength and connection that can come from vulnerability, it connects us as humans.”~ Piera Gelardi
I painted Piera Gelardi before even learning her name. And I don’t typically find beauty ads to be all that rich insofar as inspiring me – yet, her face is featured in a series that was launched by Olay. Aside from her regal nose and mesmerizing eyes, Gelardi has a message I should keep with me, always!
There is so much more behind my being mesmerized by Natasha Ramsay-Levi’s face that transcends the surface. Found in W Magazine’s Volume 4 2018 issue, I then went online to find out more about the photographer Paolo Roversi. Within the bio I’d located, I learned that Roversi’s first assignment for the AP was to cover Ezra Pound’s funeral – which alone is an auspicious start for a photographer’s journey. And in her position as creative director for Chloé, Ramsay-Levi has brought some extraordinary and admirable views and visions…
Photo by Paolo Roversi
My colored pencil depiction from the above: