The beginnings of I Believe in Ghosts Portrait 4, title TBD.
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 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).
In January, I set out to complete 100 self portraits. I required that all my work be the same size (17x14 inch gessoed paper), created from life, and completed in 15 minutes or less. The small size made it possible to "finish" the work, and my self imposed 15 minute time limit prevented fussing, yielding a direct and immediate result.
I began the project working with oil, then transitioned to pastels, and then moved around between graphite, sharpie, charcoal and gouache. Initially, my portraits were very much a traditional 3/4 profile and explored color, but I challenged myself to play around with scale, perspective, line etc. Eventually I found my way to graphite and created some very interesting contour line portraits.
I learned quickly that my time restraint prevented me from having any exacting detail, and instead, forced a very raw, in the moment, emotional result. Throughout the process, my entire catalog of feelings and experiences were accessible. Initially, I saw each portrait as a different person, but then recognized that each work is a reflection of how I felt in those 15 minutes. These faces are evidence that our sense of self and identities are constantly shifting and evolving, however big or small. The complexities of which aspects of ourselves take the drivers seat to lead, push or pull us forward at any given time is fascinating.
I am inspired to add my voice and view to the subjects of portraiture and identity because the female perspective is largely missing from the sum of our history as told through art.
These animals traveled a great distance to arrive at their beautiful new home on a lavender farm in Central Poland, just a ways southwest of the city of Lódź, where my collector created and shared this inspired whimsical interior scene.
Currate your own set of four animals
It's amazing - with the rain comes mushrooms. I photographed all of these mushrooms, around my house in NorCal, since the beginning of December. Some of them are the same mushroom, but in a different stage of life and-or show a different view. I don't know enough about mushrooms to confidently identify these beauts, so let's safely assume they are all inedible, proceed with caution and simply appreciate their beauty and diversity. Click a mushroom for an enlarged slideshow :)
I'm lingering on painting flowers. I'm enjoying the whole process: cutting the flowers from the garden, arranging them, painting heavily and quickly, painting from life... it's really wonderful. Not sure how long I will stay with this, but I suppose I will enjoy it while it lasts.
This morning I enjoyed cutting these gorgeous, peony lookalike roses from my garden for a still life. A friend suggested that I try a time limit when painting, so I set up my easel, and gave myself ninety minutes to start and finish this painting. I found the deadline very motivating. It eliminated dillydallying and forced cutthroat decisions. And when the buzzer chimed, I really felt my work was complete.
I created this space to showcase my past work, chronicle my current projects, and share my inspiration.