“Through all the world
there goes one long cry from the heart of the artist:
Give me a chance to do my best. ”
Babette's Feast & Other Anecdotes of Destiny
When I started gathering my ideas together for my show last fall, I wanted to choose references that were powerful to me. They were supposed to represent the idea that we are all made and shaped by our memories. So, for the "experiential series" they had to be related to important places, times or people from the past.
In 1989, when I stepped off the plane in Kenya, I experienced a feeling that I had never had before. It was as if my feet rooted into the ground and in a way that I'd never felt before ... or since. I felt at home in a way that was so grounded. I want to say "extraordinary" but there was something so normal about it, like coming home after a very long journey.
I have traveled to places since where I've felt at home, or that felt so familiar that it was like visiting an old friend. In Assisi, I could find my way without consciously connecting my brain to my feet. I guess it felt like home too, but more of an out of body feeling.
In Kenya, I felt rooted. I get emotional just thinking of it.
So, for my solo show I knew I had to paint a memory from Kenya. I wanted to do a Cheetah (being my spirit animal and having seen them about 8 feet away!) but the panel I have for that is 5 feet tall and if I started that, I would have ended up having a show with 1 painting! So, I picked my favorite photo, which was from our visit to a Maasai village. I'm sure you can see why, with her sweet, lovely, radiance.
I started with a sanguine color conté pencil, drawing in her features on the wood panel, then blended with a brush and mineral spirits, gradually moving into using burnt sienna oil paint.
Little by little I added more varying skin tones, then went into the fabric. I love painting drapery, so I can definitely get carried away! I decided to simplify it a bit to keep the focus on her.
I started adding her beads and eventually her silver necklace but I stopped short of the longer beads. I could have gone crazy with all the details ...
There was such a lovely sense of light on her, in the photo (faded and discolored as it was) ... I knew just where the gold needed to go.
And here she is ...
Several people wanted to buy the painting but she sold (to my sister) before the show opened.
Oh, shortly after I started this blog, in 2009, I did a post about Kenya which you can see here.
Hope you are all off to a wonderful spring! I went to the Holi Festival of Colors weekend before last. I will definitely post those very color photos!
Buona Primavera, i miei amici!
Blessings and light!
“Up in this air you breathed easily,
drawing in a vital assurance and lightness of heart.
In the highlands you woke up in the morning and thought:
Here I am, where I ought to be.”
Out of Africa