Sweet Violet, 12x12, Acrylic. 2016.
Inspiration: Violet's Instagram Feed
Snack Eaten: Cheeze-Its
Listened To: Stars Over Sunset Boulevard, Susan Meissner and LaCrae
My brother and sister-in-law's family is impossible to buy for. Mainly because they have impeccable taste. Oh, and they pretty much have all the things. But knowing that my sister-in-law Holly is an art lover (as well as the accomplished Interior Designer mastermind at The English Room blog), I figured that I could paint them a portrait of one of their kids. I mean how do you say "oh I hate that picture of my cute kid?" I am brilliant.
So I scoured their children's Instagram feeds and fell in love with a selfie-video. Let me tell you, trying to paint a portrait from a video where the hair is blowing in the wind is...well...challenging. It involves lots of screen shots. And trying to remember just which screen shot you were using for the hair and which for the sunglasses and which for the bathing suit. And then trying to remember to give your niece a neck because it was different in each screen shot. But I do love the way I was able to capture the movement of the beach wind and how it plays up her youth, fun loving spirit, and simple coolness that comes with being a gem of a girl.
Under the Lee, Elizabeth Johnson Phillips
Subject: Pedestrian Bridge to Belle Isle, Richmond, VA
Snack Eaten: Snappea Crisps
Listened To: Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides and Blood Sugar Sex Magic by The Red Hot Chili Peppers
Richmond, VA is a great city for artists. Home of VCU's amazing art school, it is flooded with brilliant writers, artists, musicians, photographers, and oddly enough, is the most tattoed city in America. It is poised to be the next Austin and is just a fantastic city full of history and architecture just ripe for the picking. I am very blessed to be painting in a city haunted with the glory and shame of America's past and to be a part of capturing its artistic future.
The Pedestrian foot bridge to Belle Isle captures the essence of what is great about calling RVA home. It hovers between the city and wildlife, history and the horizon. Nestled under the Robert E Lee Memorial bridge, it gives the adventurer the opportunity to go from historic Tredegar Iron Works to the park at Belle Isle. Upon Belle Isle, you can hike, bike, fish and see historic sites as well as the beautiful riverside Richmond city skyline.
So when my friend Julianne Condrey posted a photo of the pedestrian bridge on facebook, I immiediately knew two things: 1. I was going to paint it and try to capture the movement and essence of Richmond in the sway and stability of the footbridge, and 2. I needed to warn all my friends that their public facebook photos were fair game for me to poach.
"Such as Her" 16x20. Acrylic on Canvas. Sold.
Inspiration: Aaron Shilker's "Girl with Guitar"
Model: Actress and Musician, Rebekah Pusey
Snack Eaten: Cheez-Its
Listened To: The Silver Lining Playbook, Matthew Quick and "Such as I", Rebekah Pusey
So my husband and I are binge watchers. In fact, I think the whole idea of just watching one show at a time and having to wait a week for the story to continue is for suckers and hobos. It is surreal to me that it was the norm at one point. (Am I right???)
Recently, we binge watched Showtime's Ray Donovan. In it, there was this painting by Aaron Shikler, Girl with Guitar. (The late Shikler is most famous for his portrait of JFK.) The painting was a focal point for several episodes. The painting and the story surrounding it, captivated me. (Spoiler alert!!) It was the beautiful painting that tortured Ray was drawn to because it reminded him of his guitar playing daughter with whom he had a strained relationship. The gallery owner/his mistress/mob connection gave it to him. Of course Ray's wife hated it (I mean who doesn't hate expensive gifts from your husband's lover????). So when she tried to pawn it for money, they discovered that not only was the painting worth a lot of money, but that it housed thousands of dollars of heroin in the frame. It was beauty and destruction in one. What had angered his wife later became the family's path to safety. (I won't tell you why--watch the show.) I knew instantly that I wanted to paint something like that. Not like the pastel on board masterpiece so much, but the crazy story surrounding the painting on the show.
Then I remembered I had a beautiful niece who played the guitar. She recently released her first single, "Such As I". Her haunting voice is somewhere between Florence Welch and Kelsea Ballerini and sings of being past redemption, of the tole of addiction to the family of an addict, of trauma and shame and hope and longing for home. For me, as someone who has struggled with anxiety and parents three kids with traumatic pasts and loves her share of addicts, the song haunts me.
Plus, it is super awesome to be able to speak into your phone and say "Siri, play my niece's music" and have her say, "Here is music by Rebekah Pusey." (This is where I must interject not as an artist and just as her aunt and say "OH MY FREAKING GOSH, Y'ALL! SHE IS SO FLIPPING TALENTED!!!! She is only 17. When I was 17 I was stalking a boy named Al Murphy and thinking my skinny self was fat.)
I used a photograph taken by the talented Molly Scott as a reference. Remembering the wise words of my artist mentor/teacher/friend and extraordinary watercolorist Donna Campbell Allen, "You're a painter. Not an illustrator. Paint it how you want." And so I did.