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:
One can never predict what sort of setting will be staged before entering the studio since I’ve joined this life drawing group. For last night’s session, our model Ashley was seated upon a truly far-out, vintage, mid-century chair – with its matching turquoise ottoman! After bringing my sketches home, I was compelled to add color to this particular one. Yet, with a light hand. [Yeah – imagine that!]
Ashley in Mid-Century
The actual title I give this painting is “A Girl Can Dream” – as Marisa Berenson has mesmerized me since my own childhood/girl years. A case of Marisa envy, if you will. And the photo behind the painting is another I’ve held onto for I-don’t-know-how-long! The original was shot by Irving Penn. [Interesting side note: My father had been a commercial photographer and disliked the work of Penn. However, he never elaborated on this.] And with as much credit compliance I can provide, I can only assume that this Penn assignment first appeared in Vogue. That is my guess and can also only speculate on the year it was taken.
Marisa Berenson by Irving Penn
Plainly, a lot of artistic license factored in this. In addition to modifying her Adele Simpson outfit, I riffed a bit from Milton Glaser in transforming her hair. [See iconic image of Bob Dylan which Glaser illustrated for his greatest hits release, 1966.]
A Girl Can Dream
Twenty years or so [gulp!] had passed since my occasional forays with life drawing groups. Three weeks ago I decided to delve in again after finding a group here in Mystic. This prospect was not without a fair amount of personal fear… Yet, the members of this group, who are all quite talented and skilled individuals? They made me feel not only made me welcome and [very much needed] encouraged! And for last night’s session, I brought my own box of colors along. From the image here, you can see I ditched my graphite pencils mid-way and went bananas with the colors.