There is a story behind every created form of expression – and if you are familiar with my online portfolio, you already know that I include little stories along with my posts. With this particular piece I have three [maybe more!] stories, so please bear with me.
In the early 1920s my maternal grandmother Ella Sachse had chosen to study art at what is now known as Moore College in Philadelphia, PA. Many of the tools and supplies she had accumulated have been passed along to me through my mother, including this most recent and astonishing block of cold press Fabriano paper:
In my eagerness to honor this vintage paper I had to reacquaint myself with using watercolors and due to the rough surface of it, I needed to “turn off” my usual insistence of small detailing. As seen below, I realized that the spirit of the outfit was far more important than the brocade panel behind the model.
Now, I have sung my praises of Dior’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri before but, honestly, I don’t actually follow her or any other designer with some fanatic intent. Rather, it is Dior somehow finding me – by way of print ads or fashion headlines. The latter being the case when I read that their Spring/Summer 2021 collection of haute couture was born from a rare deck of Tarot cards…
And I have dabbled in reading Tarot cards for over 20 years. While partial to the Thoth method and for those who know little about the Tarot, there are 78 cards in total and within those there are 22 dedicated to archetypes called The Major Arcana. In my personal history with both the Thoth and Rider-Waite cards, I found a particular affinity to The Fool card [#0]. That said, it made perfect sense to me that I would gravitate to Ms Chiuri’s sartorial interpretation of The Fool!
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.
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:
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!]
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.
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…
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.
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”?
I suppose it was inevitable. The time of arrival – when I would no longer have a mutually exclusive relationship with my own works. While I enjoy the kindness and support of my web base, hand rendered art really needs to be exposed to natural light. All of this to say, my own is now up at the Green Marble Coffee House for the entire month. And I would love for you to have a look!
Rita Ora is featured within “Paper” magazine’s October issue, wearing a Roberto Cavalli dress – which in reality is what I would call a peacock-blue color. While Rita is a sensation, that Cavalli dress just had to taken for my Diaphanous series. And whatever the blue that it is, I rendered it instead in orange. The two alien objects depicted were taken from the same editorial [photographed by Nicolas Moore – no relation] are tracings from Rita’s zig zag bobby pinned crown.