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
In posting this painting, I fear becoming known as “That Tim Walker-crazed painter”. Not only that, but Tim Walker – or his agent, anyway – may not be all that keen in my depictions of his inspired settings and/or concepts behind his photo shoots. Be what may: I joined two of his photos together here. While his bride appeared in a 2016 issue of “British Vogue”, the model in black originated in a 2009 issue of “Italia Vogue”. And I could not resist the contrast!
To Have and To Hold
First, an apology to adorable model Hyunji Shin. When working from Terry Tsiolis’ photo [in an editorial from the July 2018 issue of Elle] my foremost intent was to depict this incredible outline of the Marc Jacobs gown; I hardly did justice in Hyunji’s face! Yet, painting wet on wet is still rather foreign to me. One has to relinquish a lot of control – and those who know me will understand…
Hyunji in Marc
There are fashion magazine clippings which I have kept in a binder over the years… [And I do try to keep impulsive clipping at a reasonable binder management level. To “try”, being relative.] My most recent muse came by way of W Magazine and, more to the point, photographer Willy Vanderperre. His photograph offered me two elements I could not resist: lovely hand gesturing and challenging shadows. And I title this as Shear over Sheer because most challenging for me was in knowing when and what to omit.
Shear Blue Gloves
From a Rossettiesque photo by Peter Lindbergh, a Galliano gown is featured. I liked the near weariness in the model’s pose. And while the original photo [featured in Vogue, I believe] had her set against dark greens and what looked like ivy growing from the ground, I chose to add a bed of Iris instead. As my own Iris is now in bloom, will I follow them?
There is an adorable model who is not entirely depicted in this piece. And when I searched on photographer Marc de Groot’s online portfolio to look for her name, it couldn’t be found… But it was her hands that I loved most. Me, being me, I took some liberties with both her hair and the corset she wore. Maybe I should be calling her “Little Peacock”?
*Also, a thanks to the inspired work of Mr Barry Blitt!