Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Finished - Winter Sisters

Winter Sisters
11x14 inches, oil and collage papers on canvas

This collage and oil painting of me and my younger sister is about done.  It was great fun to gradually see the image develop, and to imagine the colors of our coats and shoes.  

I honestly can barely remember us at that age, though it must have been about the time when I was questioning Santa Claus.  I recall thinking that the logistics of him flying all over the world were pretty shaky, when on Christmas Eve it snowed, and the heifers broke loose.  When I woke up on Christmas Day there were hoof prints everywhere in the fresh snow, and I decided - at least for one more year - that Santa had visited.  

We believe what we want to believe.  Merry Christmas! 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Another Work in Progress - More Personal

One of the things I especially enjoy about working from old snapshots is the opportunity to really look closely at the images.  I usually work with pictures of people I do not know, but this time I wanted to work with an old photo from maybe 1956 or so of my younger sister and me.

I scanned and enlarged the original, and drew us, simplifying the background so much as to be pretty much unrecognizable.  In the original we were standing on the covered front porch, in front of the wooden door that had an oval window filled with beveled glass.  The sun was in our eyes, and we were dressed in our good wool winter coats, trimmed in fur.  We both wore hats, tied under our chins. The shapes of the door and window behind us are only suggested here by using an old diary page, wallpaper and bits of a Wisconsin map.

Yesterday I started pushing back the paper background, suggesting a shadow of the overhead roof, and adding shadows behind us girls.  I still need to make decisions about the floor, and later when the skin tones are more dry, I need to warm up the flesh tones and deepen the shadows.

Staring at the old photo I remember how much Mother liked decorating the old farm house for Christmas.  I removed the homemade styrofoam-pipe cleaner-felt Santa head that hung on the door from my painting, and the bit of our Flexible Flyer sled that showed.  Clearly the picture was taken in December.  In those early days we always had green Christmas trees, covered with glass ornaments and heavy lead icicles that we kids liked to toss on the tree in a very un-artistic way.  Funny all those memories that return, just from staring at an old snapshot.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Bernice Ann

I've been down with a nasty virus,  and I had a week or so of just wanting to make sleeping my full time job.  It seems to be about done now, so I'm back playing around with combining painting with collage papers and wallpaper.

My maternal grandmother, Bernice Ann Adams Tess, was lovely her entire life.  I've meant to try painting her more than once, and decided to start with a photo I have of her as a young girl.  She looks very serious.  I think by this time her parents had separated, and her father was killed.  Her mother remarried to a man Grandma never really liked, so I suppose the serious look is understandable.

I'm still working on 11x14 inch canvas, and adding pieces of old diary and wallpaper samples.  Grandma loved flowers, especially roses, so I wanted to include elements of that in the portrait.  The issue for me is how much to allow the collage elements to show through.  Some of the flowery border originally extended on to her forehead, but I painted it out, since it almost looked like a tattoo to me.  I wanted the background to have a darker value to make her light hair, bows, and white dress pop.  I don't mind it the way it is, but I am still open to adding some blue areas.  I am just not sure, so I'll live with it this way until I decide.  Sometimes it's better to stop sooner, rather than later.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

More Recent Painting

11x14 inches, oil over collage papers
adapted from a vintage  black and white snapshot

I have been painting lots since the weather turned colder. Lately my interest has been centered on vintage snapshots, and finding ways to paint over various decorative papers - primarily wallpaper and old printed papers.  In this one the children's clothing and much of the background is painted over wallpaper with rather delicate patterns, and the patterns disappeared under the paint - more than I originally intended.  But the background pattern still shows through, adding a bit of interest to an otherwise plain area.  I'm not sure of the year of the original photo, maybe the late 1940s or early 1950s?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Coming Along

The collage and oil painting I started last week is coming along. bit by bit.  Yesterday I finished the dress for the woman on the right, and just leaped in and added the background.  I want a very sheer and somewhat plain background that lets the wallpaper and old newspaper underneath show through a bit, and presents the figures out of any specific context.  I hemmed and hawed and stalled, and finally just did it. To my great relief that figures seem to pop much more, and the patterns under the paint do still show, though in a subtle way. 

Now the women's faces need layers of warmer glazing, and the shadows round their feet need deepening.  This is the point in a painting that gets tricky for me, since I rather like how it has turned out so far, but don't want to do anything to spoil the results.  No guts, no glory. 

I'm still thinking of a good title. and am leaning toward stealing one.  Maybe I'll call it The Three Graces.