Mary K. Baxley is the sort of woman I can listen to for hours-- she is always so full of stories and practical know-how, whether the subject be education, sewing, literature, history, health and home remedies, or the culture of the Old South. It was her interest in Jane Austen that led her to start writing Pride and Prejudice sequels/variations with a distinctly Southern twist, and she has self-published three of these imaginative works already: The Cumberland Plataeu: A Pride and Prejudice Sequal, Dana Darcy, and The Mistress's Black Veil: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary. All this having been said, when she asked for something simple and bold with blossoms such as magnolias or dogwoods to add a bit more Southern Charm to the wall behind a quilt-covered bed, I wanted to make sure she would have a suitable work. At first, I had planned a more controlled rendering, but the loose brushstrokes of Impressionism seemed to present a better play of light and movement for the room, one that suggests a spring afternoon, a breeze to soften the harsh heat of Alabama, and the simple pleasure of a glass of lemonade and an afternoon of story-telling on the porch. This is, incidentally, one of the reasons I enjoy doing commissions-- because each person will require something very different, very specific to personal memories, lifestyles, and tastes, and finding a way to combine my artistic tendencies with theirs presents an interesting challenge. After the last stroke is applied, I feel a sense of cheerful anticipation, wondering what the reaction to the painting will be. . . and the words "It's beautiful, I love it!" are as sweet as the finest of pecan pies. . .
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
So excited was I to obtain a five-foot wide, two-inch deep canvas at half price at the end of last year, I hurried it out of the art supply store without even realizing that it would not fit in the back of my Buick. I waited for a friend with a truck to meet me, help me take it home, and carry it up a flight of stairs. Over the next few months, I would dabble at the large canvas on my wall, then let it sit for weeks as I worked on other projects. Then, last week, upon accepting a new commission, I decided I should take the time to finish this large-scale painting properly before moving on with anything new.
Waltz of Impressions [above] began with the musing that the crepe myrtle branches and dappled shade outside my window reminded me of stained glass windows in a Gothic Cathedral. Said musing led me to imagine a sort of "Cathedral of Contemplation" in the woods, and pictured the lovely character from one of my figure drawings reposing there, listening to Chopin's waltzes, thinking about life and art, and watching the play of light. Naturally, I added the fountain that I see every day from my window in the background for good measure. Once again, I have managed to create a painting that I find rather difficult to photograph, but the detail snapshot below is a fairly faithful representation of the finished work. I have been gazing at this piece quite a bit-- I had become so accustomed to seeing an enormous blank canvas on the wall that I feel an odd sort of wonder whenever I walk into the room and find a charming painting there instead. . .
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
The Lady and the Sea Monster [above] arose from my thoughts on clashes between beauty, modern art, and classicism; I wanted to show the tension that often exists between inner and outer worlds, between abstraction and naturalism, but I did not want to make a painting so self-reflexive as to be gimmicky. And so, a mythology arose in my mind (I have always loved a good epic legend), and bold strokes converged into a sleek, stylized image with a smooth glossy finish. This is a rather large canvas, but due to its tall, narrow shape, it may not look quite right at smaller sizes. Be sure to click on the image for a larger view!