Portrait Commission: Eugene and Georgia Baxley

 There are many reasons why one might commission a portrait-- to celebrate a wedding or anniversary, to honor a community leader, as a dignified addition to one's interior-- or in Joseph Baxley's case, as a gift of great love and gratitude.  When Joseph brought me the above snapshot of his grandparents, asking for a portrait to give them this Christmas, I knew that I was being presented with both an incredible challenge and a chance to do something truly meaningful for the Baxley family.  The picture and the story of the people in it had an iconic quality-- the word "All-American" came to mind instantly.

He, Eugene, one of ten siblings growing up in rural Oklahoma during the Depression, lied about his age in order to join the Marines at 15 in 1945.  He later enlisted in the Navy the year this photo was taken, 1950, and served a full tour.  During the time he spent in the Navy, he was a tailgunner and flew reconnaissance missions over Formosa.  After that, by this point married with two childen, he went to college, majored in mathematics, and was able to support and better the lives of his family members by working for the government and at one point even teaching mathematics.  Joseph describes him as humorous, hard-working, strong-willed, and still "fiery".

She, Georgia, grew up on a tobacco farm with her four siblings in Tennessee and has always been a clever, stong, outspoken woman.  Joseph remembers her once showing him a picture of herself dressed in overalls as a child and matter-of-factly telling him that she "hated wearing overalls" because she was simply "not a boy."  She and her husband have been married for nearly 62 years.

As far as the painting itself is concerned, I have worked with vintage photos and postcards in the past, but usually with more fanciful intentions.  With this project, it was imperative, despite the small size of the main reference photo, that the figures look fairly "real" and that the resemblance be strong.  With the help of a few other photos and Joseph's feedback at each stage of the process, I was able to re-create the scene with only minimal changes to improve the composition or reduce the "squinting" look of the eyes in harsh sunlight.  Since I did not have photos large or crisp enough for a completely traditional rendering, I took a pastel-toned, semi-impressionistic approach, hoping to achieve the warmth of a colorized photo and a style that would evoke the late 40's and early 50's.  The finished result is the 24X30 water-based oil on canvas below.

The original photo was taken on the 24th of December in 1950; when Joseph brings it to his grandparents for Christmas this year, it will be 62 years to the day that the picture was taken.  It was an honor to be able to do this painting, and I hope that it will bring joy to the wonderful people for whom it was painted!

Half a Decade in the Making

As I was growing up, learning to play the piano, devouring every word of books such as Great Expectations and National Velvet, wondering about the different things I could do with the Future (that illustrious thing), my mother would often remind me that it takes ten years of dedicated work to truly master and succeed in anything.  She would usually cite Van Gogh as an example, showing me pictures of his often poorly-proportioned early work in contrast to the bursting color and strength of line in work from the final two years of his all-too-brief life.

What I came to understand from her words was not that it took any particular number of years to master a skill, but that it was what I did in the present over time, not mere distant wishes, that would shape my future.  Even so, having recently passed the 5-year mark in my art career (I began painting in the summer of 2007, as I discuss in this much older post), I start to think of Mom's Decade Rule more literally.  I start to wonder about the developmental stages of an artist-- how it all begins with an awe for life and nature or simply an instinct to take up a pencil or brush and evolves into goals, plans, a quest for concrete skills, the road to technical mastery, a way of life, a philosophy, a vision to inspire and bring joy to others, a basis for many friendships and new experiences, a career marked by learning and a formidable body of work.

Of course (and I say this with a sheepish grin) while Rome may not have been built in a day, it was built day-by-day, and I will continue to stay focused on the present as I make plans for the future.  

That having been said. . . concerning current news, two of my pieces, Michele [below] and Claire de Lune [above] are on display at the Arts Council Gallery in the Von Braun Center.  They will be there until January, so if you find yourself in Downtown Huntsville, do take a look at these two paintings and the many others by talented North Alabama artists.  I am also busy at work on a new portrait commission, which I look forward to sharing with you soon!


Full Steam Ahead: A Portrait With Steampunk-Infused Aesthetics

Wordplay aside (however much it amuses this German/English major), I like the idea of paintings that nod to popular Steampunk aesthetics without simply imitating what has already been done in order to fit in with the rest of the genre.  I still want my work to look painterly according to my own particular expectations, after all, and to be true to my original leanings to some extent.  My first trilogy of pieces was quite abstract, in fact-- a juxtaposition of Victorian costumes, gadgets, meandering arabesques, and Early Expressionist commentary, all inspired by a quick sketch.

Steam Bryan [above] is a different take on my original ideas-- it is deeply informed by my recent foray into portraiture, but adds a large measure of fantasy for symbolism.  The piece has quite a bit of texture and in choosing colors, I did not strive for strict naturalism.   Bryan smokes flavored tobacco from a hookah while lounging on his plush sofa, keeps a wonderful lunatic of a black-and-white dog and a scrawny black-and-white cat with Kafkaesque eyes (glaring down at us from the upper right corner of the painting), has a wonderfully silly sense of humor, and listens to a wide variety of experimental/progressive music. . . combined with the way his deep-set eyes become dark wells under the right lighting, he seemed an intriguing subject for a portrait, and only an unusual portrait veiled in decorative smoke would do!  Because of the themes and colors of the piece, many have seen references to Alice in Wonderland in it, an association which I whole-heartedly encourage.  In a way, Bryan as the Steampunk Mad Hatter can be an interesting metaphor for what it can be like to try to be oneself, feel one's best, and remain responsible without losing one's sense of adventure in the modern suburbia where Bryan lives and works. 


Late Summer Sketching

Blueprints are as useful in art as they are in architecture; I usually consider a thoughtful preliminary drawing to be the backbone of a successful painting.  I like to practice drawing for its own sake whenever I can, but sometimes I would rather be practicing in a group/public setting than alone in my studio, both for the good company and the variety.  That having been said, I finally made it over to the Monday morning figure drawing session at the Huntsville Art League and look forward to returning regularly.  Our model on the 13th had such subtle features that getting a good likeness in a short period of time was challenging.  I am not sure that I ever quite captured the spark that made her features entirely her own, but I do like the two final drawings I did quite a bit regardless [above].  As summer begins to hint at fall and the school year begins again, I start to make new goals, pick up my sketchbook and vow anew to squeeze as much art and beauty into my life as is humanly possible.

With that inspiration in mind, I made sure to take a few brief minutes yesterday between appointments and other activities to sketch my mother [above] under the shifting shade of old trees in Big Spring Park. . .

Candid Camera

Some of my best shots so far this year, taken with my new Canon Rebel T3. . .


New Commission: The Eternal City

Rome.  I have not had the chance to see it with my own eyes yet, but all roads do seem to lead me to it.  The fateful day that I walked into Dr. Gerberding's Latin class in 2006 cemented my fascination with the Eternal City.  Since then, many a friend has ventured to Rome and come back with a grand story to tell.  A new outlook on life.  A greater desire to follow that ever sound piece of Latin advice: Carpe diem.  When my friend and former Latin classmate Jerry Gilley asked that I transform one of his favorite travel photos into a large abstract painting, I wanted to dive into the project immediately.  It almost felt like a collaboration, given that I have great admiration for Gilley's photography.  His photo of St. Peter's [below] is ominous and dark, with strong geometry.  My own abstract style is already rather geometric, so I focused on angles and structure in the composition for Roma [above].  

While I originally considered following the picture more closely, the warm reds and browns in Gilley's office and livingroom inspired something a bit softer and brighter.  I accentuated the size and curves of the lamp for contrast and avoided harsh outlines to suggest the more romantic appeal of classical Italian style.  Interestingly enough, however, I took a few of my other stylistic cues from the clean, modern architectural paintings of Feininger.  Gilley-- I hope that you will enjoy this piece for years to come.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to turn many years of admiration for all things Roman, many nights listening to our classmates' wonderful memories, into a piece of art for your home.

On Display at the Carnegie Visual Arts Center

From August 7th-September 22nd, the Carnegie Visual Arts Center in Decatur will be holding a North Alabama group show called "Embracing Art: A Coming Together of Amateur and Professional Artists".  I am honored and excited to announce that two of my pieces, Thinking and Clockwork Woman [below] were accepted into the show!  The Carnegie Visual Arts Center is exquisite and features some very prominent artists from our area-- if you find yourself in Decatur (or need an idea for a day trip), be sure to see the show!


A Little Help from My Friends: Michele

In order to build a strong portrait portfolio, I have always believed that I would have to be able to depict many different subjects and "accessories" in as artistic and meaningful a manner as possible.  My good friend Michele, with her love of culture, fantasy, and costumes, cute-yet-assertive demeanor, unique looks, and general willingness to pose for my camera, struck me as a great creative subject from the start.  The finished portrait [above and below] is a mix of whimsy and realism that I came to after taking several snapshots with a point-and-shoot and taking some creative license (the blue gloves, for instance, were painted from my imagination and I added lots of extra texture and color to the umbrella).  I am thankful to Michele for posing for this interesting piece; it is always quite a pleasure to portray someone I know and love in art, highlighting all the beauty and personality of that person. . .

In other notes, I am now able to offer all of my portraits and other paintings as high-quality prints on canvas.  The below image is of my Von Braun portrait (a large 30X40 original) as a 16X20 print. . . visit Christina Wegman Fine Art for more information!


How Many Words Is a Picture Worth?

When I began sharing my artwork online and keeping a website to discuss my thoughts and development, my goal was to make announcements about my career, explain why I paint certain things in certain ways, and to hopefully spark discussion about my work or art in general.  At first, I was concerned that I would have difficulty updating regularly or finding the right words to describe the different ideas swimming about in my head (finding le mot juste is no easy matter sometimes). . . but after over two years of maintaining this site, the real difficulty (at least to me) seemed to be that my point-and-shoot camera was disappointing me on a regular basis.  Throughout my teenage years, I liked to shoot pictures with a 35mm Canon Rebel, but as digital cameras began to gain popularity, my ability to afford a new camera of similar quality began to wane.  As of last week, however, a new Canon Rebel T3 has come to pick up where my old Canon Rebel left off.  As far as my work as a painter is concerned, in the internet age, most viewers will see my art in reproduction before they ever see it in person.  Better photography means better prints, more vivid images to go along with posts on this site (or on my Facebook page), better documentation of my work in general, a better representation of the colors/textures in my paintings for out-of-state clients. . . but in addition to all of these things, a new camera also means a new opportunity to further explore another art form-- the art of the photograph!  It is my great hope that you will enjoy all the little improvements in presentation that my re-introduction to photography will bring to this site over time. . .


Cover Girl

If you live in Huntsville, AL, you have doubtlessly seen issues of the Valley Planet in offices, restaurants, and shops around town. Through June 27th, the girl on the cover will be peering back at you from a detail of my painting Waltz of Impressions.  A black-and-white image of the full painting and a bio are printed inside.  I am very excited to be able to share this bit of news and am exceedingly grateful to the Valley Planet for this opportunity.  Do pick up a copy-- I will be happy to autograph it for you!

Spring Into Arts

Abstractions have not figured quite as prominently as usual in my work these days, so I decided to finish one of my more stylized pieces before moving on to the next formal portrait.  Spring [Above] began many weeks ago when tulips and daffodils and other jewel-toned flowers were nodding their heads in the breeze and the delicate new leaves of Huntsville's crepe myrtles formed neon garlands across courtyards and porches.  Yet harsh summer arrived early, searing away the powdery softness of spring; my thoughts drifted to other ideas and this piece hung unfinished upon my wall.

After adding the final touches to my last portrait, I thought that revisiting this piece might be a particularly good idea-- partially because too many unfinished canvases lying about can become disorienting, partially because I wondered how just having finished a very detailed, realistic piece might somehow influence this one, and partially because coming back to it seemed like a nice, meditative interlude.  I found myself rather interested in smoothing out messy brushwork in places and contrasting flat color and heavy lines with shorter, thicker side-by-side strokes.  The piece, I feel, has the sharply-delineated, almost cartoonish quality of the heavily-stylized, retro-inspired marker drawings I used to do as a teenager.  I think I would like to combine elements of this style with realism to create an unusual-yet-still-formal atmosphere somehow. . .

At any rate, Spring is quite large, the same size as The Lady and the Sea Monster, and, to me, it is stylistically related.  It is also of a sort of fantasy character, a beautiful spring lady carrying a mysterious bottle (presumably filled with a heady potion of a perfume that will inspire anyone who touches it to dream and revel in beauty).

[This painting and, indeed, many others are still available for purchase.  Please visit the Christina Wegman Fine Art Facebook page for pricing information.]

Actually, It Is Rocket Science: 100 Years of Wernher Von Braun

Throughout my artistic wanderings, I have often found inspiration in my hometown. Huntsville, AL, "The Rocket City", has played a role in the style and substance of many of my works, just as it has left its imprint upon my life.  Huntsville's current main claims to fame are the U.S. Space and Rocket Center (home to Space Camp) and one of the leading science and technological research parks in the world.  A Saturn V rocket looms in the background of every drive across town, from behind the trees when I am on a friend's balcony, in the distance as I stroll at an outdoor mall. . . and one of my fondest childhood memories is of the face of the rocket man to whom Huntsville owes its nickname, Wernher Von Braun, gazing curiously from an oil painting that used to hang in the Symphony Hall and from a photo collage at the airport.  The idea of exploring the universe that sparks my imagination so greatly has no doubt been reinforced by the fact that Huntsville's identity is so starkly defined by the Space Race.  My father's own successful engineering career was made possible by some of the same forces that swept America during that time.  Dr. Von Braun and his team, I realize, were part of a complex and controversial history, but Von Braun's vision and contributions to spaceflight, not to mention to the quality of life in the Southern town that he called home, remain truly remarkable.  Many of the German volumes of philosophy, history, and literature that now sit upon my shelves belonged to these men and their families.  One of my professors turned out to be the son of one of Von Braun's team members.  At my very first job beyond the university, I found myself serving Konrad Dannenberg lentil soup and Black Forest cake on his birthday.  I am drawn to this history and my daily brushes with it.

2012 is the Centennial of Von Braun's birth and the above portrait is my tribute.  I spent quite a bit of time looking at pictures, wondering what Von Braun might have looked like in real life, attempting to learn exactly what color the Moon is (it is not, apparently, a flat gray), and trying to create just the right amount of detail on a rocket that, despite being in the distance, is over a foot tall on such a large canvas (30X40).  Since Von Braun did many concept sketches and encouraged art as a way to popularize scientific exploration, I wanted the colors and style of the piece to feel a bit like 60's illustrations.  Throughout the project, I found myself not merely layering paint, but researching planets and rockets and history, politics and ethics. . . exploring different worlds; it is not only fitting, but assures me that my recent foray into portraiture will continue to prove intriguing.

To Thine Own Self Be True

While I had originally planned a larger, more playful painting with perfume-bottle-shiny colors and a wry smile for my second portrait example, I soon decided that such a work would require a different sitter than myself.  I am by no means a grim character, but I do tend to lean toward a certain measure of aesthetically tasteful asceticism in my lifestyle, admire the soul-searching of the Romantics, translate Latin, and read a great deal of German philosophy (usually whilst listening to Bach, Chopin, Wagner, or Schubert).  My first piece was stately, larger-than-life, and grandiose; my second needed to be modest in scale but straight-forward, plain but piercing, and full of steady, tranquil blues-- a piece about a modern character who nevertheless has a close affinity to the humanities-centered education and general sensibilities of an intellectual from the late 1800's.  Even so, I did not want to end up painting a piece that looked as though it belonged on the cover of a fantasy novel complete with fanciful castles, impossibly large libraries, and a noble falcon on my arm (at least not this time).  The result is this head-and-shoulders study of me in my striped sweater and wool pea coat, with hair a bit tousled, gazing at the viewer in contemplation.

Approaching Portraiture

Perhaps it is the beauty of the flowers and lush greenery, perhaps it is the pleasant weather, but there is something about spring that encourages me to look at my world with a more precise eye, with a greater appreciation for detail, and that having been said, to channel that approach into new artistic pathways.  This spring, what my walks, admiring glances at trees and birds, and general joie de vivre led me to do was to take up studying Wheelock's Latin anew and to pursue my love of portraiture.  While I plan to expand my portfolio with a variety of different pieces depicting different sitters, the best way to begin practicing this new offshoot of my artistic vocation seemed to be with a self-portrait or two.  Thinking [above] is a nicely stylized piece with a somber air. . . I deliberately chose to work from an unflattering photograph with harsh shadows to accentuate the challenge of working with an insufficient piece of reference material (something I suspect might be a useful skill for a portrait artist).  I added a simplified impression of a carving I photographed in Dresden as the background for added interest and context.  I rather enjoyed being attentive to relevant detail, and while the background is loose and abstract, certain areas, such as the eyes and hair [below] were attended to with the utmost delicacy.  I did not want the mock-Venetian, semi-realistic but almost whimsical style of Nik in Italy; I wanted solidity and rigid stateliness in accordance with my strong academic leanings.

The next piece I would like to work on will be a much more light-hearted self-portrait and I look upon the prospect of expanding my portrait portfolio with great exuberance.  If you would like to commission a portrait of your own, you are most welcome to leave a comment or contact me through the Facebook page Christina Wegman Fine Art.)

Carpe Tea-em?

The phrase otium cum dignitate (leisure with dignity) has remained with me from the very first time I heard it in Latin class (circa 2006). I have always been a supporter of the idea of spending free time seeking enriching activities-- reading great works of literature, studying nature, playing the piano, writing, exercising, visiting museums and historical sites-- I firmly believe that what comes out of my mind or mouth is a direct reflection of what I have done to nourish my spirit. Part of the way I prefer to do such things, whenever possible, is with a cup of tea at hand. Chai, Oolongs, Lapsang Souchong, Senchas-- a fine tea is always irresistible to me, an aesthetically rewarding experience in and of itself. Though the Romans never knew the joy of tea, I am certain that, had camellia sinensis come into Roman life, Cicero would have been delighted to contemplate his art collection with a cup nearby and Horace would be inclined to seize the leaves with gusto. I would not care to begin my early morning hours without a pot of tea, my journal, and a book to flip through. First Cup [above], painted using primarily acrylic, is my tribute to reaching forward for a delightful first sip and a morning of rewarding contemplation.

Steampunk Trilogy

The newest addition to my steam-inspired series, The Compass [above] is about navigation, maps, an adventurer and her gadgets and machines. Unlike the Clockwork Woman, this girl is far less cryptic, perhaps more in control. I am particularly amused by the fact that the type of compass pictured is a drafting tool, reflective of my own vocation as an artist and interest in geometric patterns, and that such compasses were often used in Medieval manuscripts as a symbol of God's act of creation.

As for the technical aspects of the painting, it is smoother and less abstract than the first piece in the series, less simplified than the second. . . I partly wanted to pay homage to 50's movie posters and sci-fi illustrations, but also liked the idea of the figure developing clarity and distinction from the various swirls and general mechanical shapes around her. Where will the series go from here? Will our traveler take a closer look at her map or will she take a wild leap into uncharted territory?

All Ye Know on Earth, and All Ye Need to Know

During the summer of 2011, I spent a few pleasant afternoons taking reference photos of friends for future art projects. Though I had (and still have) other plans for exploring the possibilities these images present, the coolly wistful gaze in one of them and the completion of my Organic Compositions series gave me an idea that needed attention. Liz in an Abstract Landscape [above] combines the figure of one of my friends with the arabesques and expressionistic meanderings of the compositions, making the image both a classic ode to beauty à la John Keats and a story about one's relationship with one's surroundings in the modern world.

Of course, as for my own current relationship with my surroundings, spring has enticed my eyes, ears, and nose to observe the world with renewed intensity. I have a fierce desire to absorb every shadow's angle, every flower, every breeze. . . and so I have pulled out my trusty ballpoint pen again to sketch. Although my approach to #Draw365 has certainly changed over time, I have continued to sketch each day. . . yet most of my sketches are incomplete conceptual records; I would like to return to doing a few more "finished" sketches as well. The above drawing is of a nearby greenway; below, I was studying the blossoms from a tree growing outside one of my windows. While my pen strokes remain loose and general, I find myself increasingly curious about details that I might usually simplify, wanting to know my reality more thoroughly, more closely. . .


Ah, Spring! Seafare 2012, March Interview. . .

In light of Huntsville's unpredictable early spring, my imagination is romping enthusiastically through breezy days, clumps of daffodils, and boughs heavy with white, lilac, and pink blooms, but wildly fluctuating temperatures and humidity have left my canvases sluggish. I currently have two water-based oil pieces and one acrylic in the works, but they remain so wet and sticky that I must proceed uncharacteristically slowly to avoid cracking.

That having been said, when I was recently offered the opportunity to paint a buoy [above] for The Huntsville Arts Council's spring fundraiser, "Seafare 2012", I was more than happy to not only support an excellent local arts organization but try out a new surface (and have yet another project to work on while the others still refuse to dry). Many artists have contributed hand-decorated buoys to go on auction tomorrow, some of which can be viewed on The Arts Council's Facebook page. The surface, a slightly bumpy plastic, was intriguing, as was the shape, and while it took four coats of acrylic to cover it evenly (and it also remained sticky far longer than expected), determining how to work with its shape and texture was quite pleasant. I gave "Louisiana Romance" [top photo] a base warmed with metallic gold and used a ballpoint pen for finishing touches. Since the theme was water- and ocean-related, I drew on my memories of vacations to the Gulf Coast for inspiration, wanting to create a thematically relevant piece that still oozed Southern charm and a sense of history.

In other notes, I have just today posted this month's Huntsville Art Blog interview with NA Crafters founding member and local jewelry maker Jessica Moon. In it, she talks about her role in the group and how others can become involved-- she and a few fellow members have also worked together to decorate a buoy for the Arts Council fundraiser, which, along with the full interview, can be seen by clicking here.

Now Showing at The Little Green Store and a New Art Talk

Earlier this week, I dropped off all seven of my Organic Compositions [above, the first of the series] to be displayed at The Little Green Store on Monte Sano, a lovely environmentally-conscious gallery/store featuring fine art, jewelry, and assorted hand-made items (even beer and wine). The paintings have arrived just in time for the store's annual Valentine's sale, beginning this Saturday and continuing through Tuesday. I am very proud to be able to show my work in a place so in line with my passion for nature, surrounded by the trails and trees and wildlife of the mountain overlooking Huntsville.

In other notes, Wednesday marked the beginning of my efforts to host a weekly art talk on Twitter. The discussion centered around art's role in society and what art means to people; being a completely open discussion (the only kind of discussion my philosophical nature could possibly allow), it quickly made twists and turns in all directions. The conversation will clearly be able to go on for many weeks to come. It is my hope that more voices will join in to create an ever-growing artistic exchange full of joy and deep thought. If you are interested in adding to this exchange, please follow @C_WegmanArt and show up on Wednesdays from 2-3pm Central ready to talk about all things art-related!

February Interview

This month, I had the honor of interviewing Gina Hurst, who is not only The Huntsville Art Blog's manager and main contributor, but a remarkably dedicated force in Huntsville's art scene in general, as well as the new Volunteer and Member Services Manager with Huntsville's Arts Council. Though her work is specific to North Alabama, she serves as a wonderful example to arts advocates, artists, and art-lovers everywhere.

To read the interview, click here.

Searching for the Key

Though not nearly as rusty and mechanical as Clockwork Woman
, the newly finished Searching for the Key [above] was painted in very much the same spirit. However, while the earlier painting was somewhat unquestioning and content to run like clockwork, this one is more pensive. I like to think that the girl in this painting is going through hundreds of intricate keys along dark corridors, trying to figure out which one unlocks meaning and adventures, tossing away the ones that led to old chambers full of cobwebs, hoping her candle will last until she finds what she is looking for. As with The Lady and the Sea Monster, there is a mysterious literary undercurrent in this painting that is giving me new ideas to wonder about. . .

Picking Up Steam in 2012

As a 26 year-old (a teacher at that), I find it odd to realize that the children I teach have never known life without computers or cellphones. I am not "addicted" to technology myself-- I like to use it for good and otherwise have no interest in allowing it to use me or overwhelm my time-- and so people always seem a bit too "wired" to me these days. I have never believed this to be a particularly romantic or poetic age and, I must confess, life in the suburbs can often leave a well-read young person feeling as if something is missing. Perhaps this is why many in my age group are so enamored of video games and fantasy art or literature. It bespeaks a yearning for the epic, and often the inability to find that quality in one's daily life, and combines escapism and technology in an accessible package. Moreover, fantasy and science-fiction can open up possibilities to imaginative thinkers; for instance, I cannot help but admire the creative, impeccably-rendered concept art, animation, fantasy illustrations, et cetera that are being produced these days.

On the other hand, there is a commercial sensationalism to the not-quite-underground popularity of these genres as well. . . when I attempt to look beyond their glossy aesthetics and adventures, sometimes I find meaning and often I do not. I wanted to make paintings that alluded to the high-tech/fantasy trend without being plastic or commercial themselves. . . and with it, I wanted to think more about the relationship between man and machine. With the modern fascination for the robotic garb of certain pop singers and their uncanny allusions to the Maschinenmensch of the film Metropolis in mind, I turned to a Steampunk-inspired #Draw365 piece, and as promised in my final post of the year, I spent the 1st morning of January painting, namely, finishing Clockwork Woman [above]. (In it, I also added a vague sense of Art Deco mystery and fantasy that hints to my painting The Lady and the Sea Monster.)

I like the optimism and 19th-Century modern style of Steampunk, the speculative nature of alternate histories-- the lover of all things appearing to be from the steam-powered age seems to embrace technology and also provide a remedy through classical design and whimsy, a rebellion against the coldness technology can create. Steampunk objects and outfits have their technological elements, but they do not simply toss aside history or human culture or the love of beautiful ornamentation. On the other hand, there are still many nuances, both positive and negative, behind the idea of combining "Clockwork" with a person, and the Industrial Revolution in general has had its conflicting benefits and setbacks, particularly with respect to the environment. I am not certain as to how many pieces this series will encompass, but I have planned a trio of works so far. The next two pieces [above, the newly-primed canvases, flanked by Burlesque Beauty and Emerging Red] will have strong themes of "searching" and "exploration" behind them, but as in this first painting, both suggest the mechanical and the human, and rely on human expressiveness for the core of their impact.

In other notes, I am very proud to say that some of my Mother's artwork is being featured on the Huntsville Art Blog. Click here to view the full feature.