Little Black Dress

"I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille."

Day 288: Gruau copy

Today’s piece is the final version of a commissioned painting I’ve been working on for about a week. One of my collectors, Todd, reached out when I made the call for help with funding the LA trip to try out for Work of Art.

Todd has painted impressive copies himself (here’s his Monet in a Minute! Video on YouTube) and pitched in with a much-appreciated donation in exchange for a copy of this René Gruau illustration from a Christian Dior perfume ad in the 40’s or 50’s.

This is a big one- it measures 30” x 40”, and is in acrylic with some charcoal. I tried to keep the style loose to reflect the expressive brushstrokes of Gruau. The flowers include some palette knife texture, and I did a lot of glazing to give it depth. Because I photographed this at night, it’s a little more yellow and blurrier than a daytime photo would be, so keep that in mind, Todd! (He is seeing this the same time as y’all, per his request, so hope he likes it!)

Here’s the digital image Todd sent me that I printed and used as a reference:

Source image of Rene Gruau's Dior Perfume Ad

Here’s my version:

Gruau copy on canvas

 

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Ugly bags of mostly water

Day 257: Forms continued

If you’ve been following the blog, you may recall my illuminated-figurative-quilted-plaster piece from Day 237, “They’re forming”, (OMG I totally used another Star Trek reference for today’s post title without even realizing it. NERD!!!). This is the other piece- and in fact the first piece I thought of doing- but it took a little longer to finish.

I learned that I have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) a couple of years ago. More recently, I read that this condition contributes to obesity because of the hormonal imbalance. I’ve struggled with my weight since I “became a woman”, but I’m not saying PCOS is to blame. I’m sure that never taking an interest in exercise and having a long term love affair with carbohydrates has something to do with it, but at any rate, I have to say I’ve thought of my health more since seeing the “string of pearls around the ovary” on the ultrasound those years ago.

I wanted to make a sculpture that depicted PCOS in kind of a pretty way while referencing my issues with body image. I know that might sound kind of weird, but I had an epiphany last night while I was falling asleep about my artmaking. I realized that I really enjoy taking things that might go unnoticed or that most people wouldn’t find beautiful on first glance and transforming/arranging them into something more interesting or aesthetically exciting. So there you go.

Like the other one, this was made from rigid wrap casts of my body that my lovely husband helped me with. That shell was placed around a wire armature attached to a wood base. I bent aluminum screen into the top to support the fabric.

Internal view before adding fabric

I sewed together two layers of white curtain sheers with grey thread stitched into a cellular pattern resembling the polycystic ovary; the wavy oval pieces are the ‘cells’, the larger circles are the ‘cysts’. Take my word for it when I tell you that this representation is much prettier than the actual cross-sections I researched in Google images. (Can you tell I’m not a fan of surgery shows? Blech!)

Now I've got "Baby Got Back" stuck in my head. GREAT. Oh, you too? MWA-HA-HAAA!!

Bright white LEDs placed on the ovary section of the armature glow through the sheer material in bright points while also casting larger white circles into the cystic area of the fabric (which I didn’t expect, but which is a cool effect!) when the piece is lit only by LEDs.

A 15-watt chandelier bulb adds more glow and better illuminates the cellular stitching, but is low enough to allow the LEDs to still be visible. It’s hard to see in the photos, but they also give off different light (blue-white LEDs/yellow-white bulb).

When I began this piece, I was mortified. Seeing my most-loathed body-section right in front of me almost made me cry. But I was determined to see it through and turn it into something that didn’t make me want to run out of the room when I saw it. I never would have thought I’d accomplish that, but I have to say I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out. Yay!

I really want to make a joke involving the word "cheeky" BUTT I'm going to refrain. HAHA! I CRACK myself up. Sorry. Couldn't resist.

Fabric detail with both LEDs and internal bulb lit

…they’re forming!

Day 237: Forms

So I know all you’ve had to look at for days have been those typographical mini paintings, and it’s been really dictionary/painting heavy for a bit. So I’m happy to say “and now for something completely different!”

Behold the as-yet-unnamed sculpture piece I’ve been yammering on about for the past week or so. After many trips to Home Depot/Radio Shack, Utrecht and some much appreciated assistance from my husband after my first failed tata self-wrap attempt, I finally finished this thing. What is it, you ask? It’s a, um.. illuminated formed quilt and plaster figure form? That doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue now, does it? Oh, did I say illuminated?

I’m going to have to look up sculpture vernacular or something and decide what to name it, but I’m pretty happy with it. It’s the first of a series of pieces I had a flurry of ideas for all at once that are largely sculptural. In my mind, I picture a full-on installation with all of them together. Right now, that installation space is probably going to be my garage. Except it’s triple digits out here, and I don’t expect anyone to stand around looking at sculpture sweating their faces off.

I mentioned the other day that I wanted to push myself, and this piece is one of the first in that vein. Sculpture is new for me, as is dealing with personal self-esteem issues in my artwork. I like myself- I think I’m friendly, talented and occasionally witty ;)- but I’ve always had issues with my body image. Like many women, I’ve struggled with weight issues most of my adult life.

This sculpture was made from plaster wraps of my torso, which forced me to face my actual size “in the flesh” right there in front of me. Inside is quilted, shiny white fabric I stitched with a pattern resembling fat cells. It’s an interesting piece for me, because it is a fairly literal reference to the self-deprecating feeling of being a pile of fat wrapped in skin, which taps into years of negative thinking. But at the same time, I tried to execute it in a way that was pretty and light, and I do feel that it has some kind of aesthetic value, even though the body shape represented isn’t one most people would typically associate with beauty.