For those of my friends who have responded to my invite to see my blog, this is the painting I have been telling you I was working on. I call it “Working Woman”. It is oil on canvas and one of the few photo realistic paintings I have done. Those of you who know my work know that usually, when I’m painting, for fun, I work rather quickly. The brush or pastel strokes are loose and juicy. It has been quite a while since I did an oil painting and this one had to be done in a confined area, and sitting down. So, it is just tighter than I usually work. However, if you zoom in you can see the juicy brushwork and it’s still ragged in many areas. It is not “finished” as I am not happy with one of the roses and I need to add Brianna’s graduation tassel. After that, one of the hardest things about painting is to know when to quit.
Do I need one more oil painting? When I told my granddaughter I was working on a new painting she laughed and said “ oh grandma, you are crazy”. Those among you who are also artists can relate to the question of why put myself through the agony of never being satisfied with what I do paint because so much more is possible, but at the same time, really being satisfied at knowing how much I have worked in my lifetime, and how it is still getting better. I don’t call it a hobby.
Also, it has been a really long time since I have painted a still life. Usually I paint and draw people and natural places when it is painting “for myself”. This time I had an idea stuck in my head for six months and finally had the time to work on it this winter. For those of you who don’t already know the story behind this painting., it was my way of dealing with a very hurtful event, and turning it into something positive, and I hope beautiful. I’d really appreciate hearing from some of you as to what kind of impression you get from this work.
Last spring I had one of two hip surgeries and I had promised the students in my Game Design capstone class that I would be at their graduation. When graduation was scheduled one of the students suggested that she and the other students in the class would each like to hand me a white rose when they received their diplomas. We knew I would not be part of the ceremony because I was still out on medical leave officially, but I had an invitation and was really looking forward to getting back to my job as a teacher and administrator. However, the director of the school, came out to my car in the parking lot and told me I could not attend the ceremony because it would pose some sort of risk to the corporation that owns the school. The students were upset because it was clear that I was not endangering the corporation by attending a graduation, but I did not want to spoil their event, and waited out the graduation in my car. One of the students named Brianna brought me the bouquet of roses and I took them home with me.
Later when I got home I didn’t have a vase to put them in but my Stanley thermos was sitting on the counter and I filled it with water and put the roses in it. My car keys were there, so was the invite I didn’t get to use, my CD and scarf were also there and in one of those moments I was feeling all bummed out, and the next I was inspired to do a painting called “Working Woman”. Painting white roses is a bit tricky, but a challenge that got me started on planning the piece.
The objects in the painting were collected from Brianna’s keepsakes and mine and they represent people in our lives who have worked to support their family as we do. The odd box was built by my grandfather by hand and other than his “engineering genes” is all I have of him. The pillow slip on the left background was a gift from my great aunt. The candlestick, ring and doily were from Brianna’s mother and grandmother. The books were what both Brianna and I studied at school. I found a canvas and frame and it was 24 x 36 so I worked quite a while with my daughter Marshelle on the composition and lighting. At one point when I left the room she picked up and inserted the small oil painted self portrait I had done when I was first going back to school . At first I thought it looked like something “commerative” of my life. My life isn’t done, so it was a little eerie.
Getting married at 15, being a single parent of 3 by 29 meant that I had to delay my own education, but I always intended to resume it. So, I went back to school a little late in life, in fact after becoming a grandmother. I decided to do that because I had my job of raising my daughters finally done, and I wanted to continue my own growth as a designer and artist. I sold my house and went after a BA in Illustration at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Californa.
Most of my painting instructors at the time were very disappointed that I was such a “representational” painter and tried to teach me about abstract art. I don’t know how many of them ever noted that I did understand abstract art and everything important in impressionist or abstract art was also considered in my painting, but I wanted to make art that normal people could relate to, and if the observer is also very sophisticated, they might take a second look. That didn’t happen often, though I have been commended on my drawing skills.
Well, here we are. I am still working on academic and professional development. I am still a Working Woman and apparently knowing when to quit is still an issue?