Mary Magdalene as Melancholy (pictured above and below on left) is the personification of melancholia and believed to be a self portrait of the artist, Artemisia Gentileschi. This work is a copy Gentileschi made of her previous painting, Penitent Magdalene, (pictured below on right) which resides at the Seville Cathedral in Spain.
Interestingly, x-rays revealed alterations in Penitent Magdalene in both the face and the widening of the cloth covering the subject's shoulder, probably because the original appearance was considered too risqué for the church. Looking at these two works side by side, it's easy to see the concealment of the bosom and the lack of vibrancy in the later work -- but what I find most striking are the differing gazes.
The Penitent Magdalene castes a pensive downward gaze, suggestive of guilt and shame, and an unawareness that she is being looked upon, whereas Mary Magdalene as Melancholy holds a melancholic, yet direct gaze (detail of gaze pictured below) making us the viewers very much aware that she knows we are looking upon her.
Gentileschi is a tremendous Italian Baroque painter, whose incredible work has been largely unsung owing to sexism in the art world. The injustice doesn't begin there. As a teenager she was raped by her painting mentor. He went unpunished, while she was tortured with thumbscrews during the trial to see if she was being truthful. And her "reputation" was "ruined".
When viewing Gentileschi's work we are fortunate to have a window into a 17th century female perspective - Amazing! In Mary Magdalene as Melancholy, one can't help seeing the hurt and anger and fire behind her gaze. These subtle changes between the two works speak volumes about the oppression of women and importance of women telling their own stories.
Having said all this, I really want to express the joy I felt running into Artemisia Gentilesch, at the Soumaya Museum in Mexico City! Gentileschi's work seems to be gaining more recognition as of the 2010's. She's a bad-ass feminist, and an artist well worth knowing, if you don't already.
I value opportunities to exhibit my artwork, both in traditional and non traditional spaces. Over the years, I've encounter a number of venues where they do not allow holes in the walls. This is 100% fine, however it puts a slight wrinkle in a fine-tuned hook and hammer system.
When "no holes" has been the case, the venue typically supplies some sort of hanging contraption or at the very least a suggestion for how to hang the work. However, using unfamiliar methods can cause mild worry because one always wonders things, such as 'will the work stay up?' and 'how much extra time will this new method take?'
Cut to my most recent "no holes" venue. The venue provided stationary hooks within light sconces and a suggestion of hanging the work with fishing line. Fishing line is a very fiddly material that stretches and bounces and requires special knowledge of knots, else they undo themselves. Also, one can't count on accurate measurements when tying knots -- just imagine trying to get all of the pieces the same height and level. Sounds unnecessarily nightmarish, which brings me to my discovery of STAS Picture Hanging Systems.
For my purposes, I purchased clear cords with loops and adjustable zipper hooks that hold up to 30 lbs. weight. Hanging the show (pictured below) was literally a breeze! STAS has many hanging solutions with various lengths and weight allowances, so if you find yourself in a "no holes" situation, I highly recommend checking them out.
November has been a focused period of production for me. I am deep into the creation of my newest work, title yet to be revealed, and am very happy with the progress thus far. During my October open studio I shared images, content and research that is informing future works in I Believe in Ghosts, and below you can see two of the studies I made in preparation for this current large piece I am creating. I've also included two in progress detail shots of my new painting (last images).
Create something from nothing, or bringing my work to life is a process I will never tire of. Painting is meditative for me and while in this state, I'm essentially intensively studying the work which results in more of the purpose and meaning surfacing. I am challenged by this work, so happy to be making it and extremely excited to share this piece when complete.
Emma is a strong and fiercely independent feline with an adventurous spirit. She hostesses for TWA on direct flights from San Francisco to Hong Kong.
Beau is a dashing little Cavapoo, a Cavalier Kind Charles Spaniel and Poodle mix, who finds his sweet and impish nature challenged by a pair of taunting crows.
Prints available on Etsy.
I presented a talk at the downtown Napa Main Library on July 12, 2019 about how and why I make my animal portraits. In my talk, I reveal a pivotal moment from my childhood, something unique about how I think and how that shapes my art, and I describe my process in depth. Please enjoy this recording from the opening reception, as well as a write up from the Napa Country Register.
Art in the Library featuring Jamie L. Luoto runs throughout the month of July 2019. Click here for more details.
It is an awesome responsibility and honor to create a portrait of remembrance. I was touched by my collector's love for her two dogs, Odie, who had recently passed away, and Orca. The pair shared a special bond and this piece is a terrific example of how individual identities meet and meld into a unique relationship, a sort of evolved oneness. Ultimately this piece is neither about Orca or Odie, It's about how they related to one another as individuals and the choices and life they shared together.
CONCEPT & THUMBNAILS & COLOR PALETTE
In the case of a commissioned portrait, I begin with research and interviews. I explore the subjects behavior, diet, and home. I think of breeds the same way we think of our own human ancestry, and I consider stories about the subject, as well as how they relate to the members of their family. With this information I imagine who this creature might be and sketch out ideas of how they would appear in a portrait of themselves. For example, Orca and Odie kept checks and balances on one another - Odie's loving and free spirit complimented and challenged Orca, whose herding background informed her practical nature and desire to keep tabs on her family, especially Odie!
My approach to color in a commissioned work is both a consideration for my collectors taste, while also taking into consideration the different emotional or symbolic interpretation a color can represent. For example, we decided on a cool jewel tone palette. In Orca & Odie the outdoors, and in particular water, in it's many forms were important to the pair. Within the range of jewel tone colors, I created an abstract geode looking background representative of the cool and fresh alpine feeling of dancing water and twinkling snow. It's important to know my color palette before I begin painting with gouache — unlike acrylic and oil, gouache doesn’t allow one to simply paint over something unliked. The colors I select are part of the story the painting tells and emphasize the animal’s identity.
Before I begin painting, I draw a realistic rendering of my subject(s) in graphite. In Orca & Odie I had to consider the relation of their size and builds for accuracy and correct proportions. Orca has more pointed features, but a thick and ample coat of fur, whereas Odie had a boxy, muscular build with very short fur. Once the drawing is finalized, I erase my pencil work until it is just barely visible. The faint pencil marks are essential because I use my line work as a map to block in color, but it is important that I erase enough so that the pencil marks do not show through the paint.
I typically begin by blocking out the background color or the outfit, and then I apply a number of translucent washes to the face to develop the structure and depth through gradual shading. As my work progresses, the opacity of my paint increases, my brushes get smaller, and the painted details more exact. I spend hours painting individual hairs and blending until I am satisfied with the detail in my work.
How do I know when I’m finished? There is a certain level of precision detail that appears finished to me. I no longer see areas wanting for more — more hairs, speckles, sheen, shading etc… it’s a combination of experience and a gut feeling.
My portraits go beyond a likeness of the subject, they celebrate individuality, capture the spirit, and encapsulate stories, all of which bring the piece to life.
I am so taken by all the beautiful flowers blooming around my studio in Dry Creek Valley. I found myself drawn to these beautiful orange poppies and purple wisteria which lead to creative play in my studio and the resulting piece, Blooming (shown below).
If you visited my studio in Autumn 2018, you may recall my larger-than-life-sized self portrait, I Believe in Ghosts. It's a recent addition to my new body of work, Portraits of Self and Society, in which I juxtapose vulnerability with challenging social constructs. This self-portrait examines how the conflicted messages women receive about ourselves, our bodies, and our roles impacts our lives and shapes our experiences, expectations, and choices.
I'm eager to share that I recently received word from the National Portrait Gallery in London that I Believe in Ghosts, was selected for the final round of the 2019 BP Portrait Award!
Those who know say this is the most prestigious portrait painting competition in the world, representing the very best in contemporary portrait painting. Roughly 200 portraits are selected from thousands of submissions from all around the world for the final round of judging. These 200 portraits are then whittled down to about 50 portraits that will go on to exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery in June.
Elation from the good news delivered via email in the middle of the night morphed into adrenaline as I realized I had a little over two weeks to coordinate having a frame made, having a shipping crate made compliant with UK customs regulations, correctly filling out paperwork that will make or break my journey through UK customs, and actually shipping my portrait from Healdsburg to London, clearing customs and arriving at the venue before March 1. Easy peasy, right?
Frankly a lot of hard work and support by many local treasures went into readying I Believe in Ghosts for departure to London. My piece is currently in transit with FedEx Air Freight and I’ll be holding my breath until it lands in the UK and clears customs! Regardless of the final decision, It's a huge honor to have my work considered for the second year in a row, and very I'm grateful to be included.
To be continued...
Thank you to Glenn and Charly at Hammerfriar for an absolutely perfect frame made under absurd conditions! Thank you to Chris at John Annesley for a beautifully constructed, lightweight shipping crate. Thank you Skylark Images for the exceptional documentation of my work. Thank you Sally for your endless enthusiasm and support, and help wrapping “IBIG.” and lastly, thank you Byron for around the clock all inclusive love and support.
I Believe in Ghosts didn't continue on to exhibit in the 2019 BP Portrait Award show. However, I am really very happy to have had my work selected and considered two consecutive years for the final round of judging by the National Portrait Gallery in London ... not too shabby! Well done to all and a big congratulations to this years exhibitors.
I created this space to showcase my past work, chronicle my current projects, and share my inspiration.