As time passes, I begin to see more clearly where my work is headed. Just as we see what lies ahead from a past moment with the benefit of hindsight.
My painting was awarded Second Place by juror Mona Waterhouse at the Atlanta Artists Center for the show, Renewal. You might see hints of some of my favorite books here, such as the Little House on the Prairie series, the Forsyte Saga, or even Gone with the Wind. I worked in book publishing in my first career, a profession that requires and reinforces literacy. But the painting does not have a literal meaning. It draws on my experiences as a daughter, sister, daughter-in-law, and mother.
I paint exclusively from life, because I want to depict life as it is lived over time, not in 1/100 flashes. Five models posed for this painting, as I revised and refined my own understanding of the unspoken messages I meant to convey. Annie Jefferson became the face of the two foreground figures, who might be mother and daughter, or sister and sister. In the background Tamara Smith prepares the table for what could be a celebration or a wake.
Working in the studio of Eddi Fleming, we listened to several chapters of a remarkable first novel by a Zimbabwean author, NoViolet Bulawayo, “We Need New Names.” As the story tells how children in a shanty town play games such as “finding bin Laden” and cope with terrible privation, disease, and death, it made a striking contrast to my small struggles with color, value, proportion.
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
Source: The Poems of Emily Dickinson Edited by R. W. Franklin (Harvard University Press, 1999)
‘The historian Amity Shlaes, presidential scholar at The King’s College in New York, is looking forward by looking back. “The Coco Chanel Rule is worth recalling in 2015: ‘Nothing is new, it is just forgotten.’ It’s sometimes rendered as ‘Nothing is original except what is forgotten.’ ” Ms. Shlaes calls this “an astounding statement from a creator universally venerated for her originality.” She adds, “A good resolution for 2015: Humility in art. A second resolution: Cause the forgotten to be remembered.”’
Resolutions worth repeating:
Humility in art.
Cause the forgotten to be remembered.
(From Peggy Noonan’s Declarations column in the January 2, 2015 edition of the Wall Street Journal.)
Varying the size of the characters, unifying the shadows, still working on big shapes and color relationships to build the composition that best conveys what I mean: this was a great way to spend New Year’s Eve with my models Annie Jefferson, Bill Pacer and LaDonna Allison Pacer. Pictured in the shadows is Tamara Smith, gone but not forgotten from this painting’s progress.