Saturday, October 25, 2014

"The Monster's Bath", My Nibblefest Contest Entry for Oct's 'MONSTERS Theme

~"The Monster's Bath"~

An 8x10 painted tribute to Mary Shelley, and her enduring literary masterpiece, "Frankenstein"

It's the week of the Nibblefest Art Contest.
As always, the contest began on October 20th, with the theme this month being 'MONSTERS'.

(Click for Auction Link)

"The Monster's Bath"....

I had oodles of fun working with this month's theme.  Reflecting upon the subject of "MONSTERS", naturally, that classic creature from the Boris Karloff 1931 "Frankenstein" movie was one of the first things to come into my mind.  As such an iconic image, plastered hither and yon (especially this time of year) and fully entrenched in popular culture, I'm sure this would probably be true for most anyone.  But of course, the actual story of 'Frankenstein' is way, waaaay older than that old vintage film -- written as it was in the early 19th century, by a brilliant and complex woman who lead a truly fascinating but highly complicated life.  I recall reading the book, "Frankenstein", back in high school, and knew I wanted to incorporate its author, Mary Shelley, into my entry's composition, along with the classic "Frankenstein's Monster" creature, as we all know it.  Yet I was stymied on exactly how to combine the two...., until yet another 'Mary' came to mind. A certain Mary Cassatt, that is.....

Mary Cassatt's beautiful painting, "The Child's Bath'

So yeah, we're getting pretty tongue-in-cheekishness here...but I promise you it was a real hoot painting my entry this month.....

The following is my auction description:

"The Monster's Bath"*
(*with apologies to Mary Cassatt...!)

My entry for this month's Nibblefest Art Contest (NFAC),  the theme for October being 'Monsters', features a portrait painted in loving tribute to author, Mary Shelley, her classic 1818 tome, "Frankenstein", the iconic movie character from the vintage 1931 filk of the same name, plus a certain famous work of art ('The Child's Bath") by yet another Mary, the impressionist, Mary Cassat.  Painted in acrylics on a recycled 8x10 wood plaque, this original painting is signed and ready to hang....:


What "monster" could be more inconic than the grotesquely, hulking figure played by Boris Karloff in the classic 1931 horror film...?  Universally recognizable, its moniker has become synonymous with the title, "Frankenstein" -- though in the film, and the book upon which it was loosely based, it's actually the name of the Creature's creator, Dr. Frankenstein.  But who was the REAL creator behind it all? -- the whole creepy concept, published first in 1818, and considered one of the earliest works of Science Fiction.... 

Author Mary Shelley lead a highly fascinating and unconventional life.  Brilliant and educated and marching to the beat of her own drummer, her life was not without its share of pain, illness, trauma and loss.  Losing her mother shortly after her birth, then facing the early deaths of three of her four children -- the first, an infant who survived only weeks in the year or so before her book's publication, it's thought there might have been a certain amount of mother/baby loss and longing in her idea of returning life to the dead.  I chose to portray Mary Shelley as the mother that she was, to children, both real and 'literary'

Painted upon a thin, second-hand wood plaque that originally had some ugly poster on it, which I rescued from certain landfill doom after a charity sale and gave "new life" to -- hmmm, rather appropriate use given the nature of the subject matter here, no...?

To see all of this month's Nibblefest Art entries (including mine!) click HERE....


"The Monster's Bath" wins First Place October's Nibblefest Art Contest...!  Thanks to all my bidders, commenters and Likers -- your support is much appreciated....!

"The Monster's Bath" wins First Place!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"I Heard a Fly Buzz....": Emily Dickison Tribute Portrait (Ties for 2nd Place in EBSQ "Celebrating Fan Art" Exhibit)

"I Heard a Fly Buzz...."

"I Heard a Fly Buzz..." 

How do I always get so behind in here....?!?  

Last month, in September, the online community of self-representing artists, EBSQ, hosted a themed art exhibit, entitled 'Celebrating Fan Art'.   While I figured the prospectus was probably primarily geared toward subject matter from more recent pop culture, I decided instead to make my entry yet another ode (because you can never have too many odes, amiright?) to that one-of-a-kind lady poet born 184 years ago (but who's counting?) -- the late, great Emily Dickinson....

The following is my artist statement:


When reflecting upon this month's EBSQ exhibit theme, "Celebrating Fan Art", I thought about all the innumerable and diverse popular cultural, social and artistic influences, present and past, that have impacted me in one way or another throughout the course of my life.  Narrowing such a number down to one posed a big challenge -- however, being as that it so happens that the last several consecutive painting projects of mine lately have depicted male figures, I decided to at least concentrate on a woman, if only for a refreshing change of pace (no offense to men).  There are any number of amazing female cultural icons of whom I am a fan and believe deserving of tributes....but finally, the familiar first lines of an old poem, by a certain enigmatic classic American writer, came to mind....:

".....I heard a Fly buzz - when I died -
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air -
Between the Heaves of Storm...."

And so begins one of Emily Dickinson's most notable pieces, "I Heard a Fly Buzz...."..... 

I recall my first taste of Dickinson, coming across this particular poem in English class all the way back to middle school or so.  I remember the struggle at the time to understand the meaning that might lie behind those few short lines of carefully chosen words.   What did the author mean...?  A Fly.  Somebody's death.  Buzzing.  ???   But I was intrigued, and my interest piqued enough in that classroom all those years ago, that I, as have so many others, went on to become a fan of her unique, unconventional writing style.....

An expressive composer of over 1700 poems, Emily Dickinson never actually received wide recognition within her lifetime.  She was undoubtedly an introvert -- something I can surely relate to.  An intensely private person, she instead became known more for her near reclusiveness in her later years and her penchant for wearing all white than she ever did for her writing. It was only after her death, when her secret stash of writings was discovered by a relative, that the astonishing scope of her work was finally revealed.

Emily Dickinson never married nor had children, but we can all agree she gave birth to a legacy of another kind: an incredible body of poetic verse, that continues to speak to us today nearly two centuries later. Thus I portray Miss Dickinson in this, my tribute portrait, in a dress of white, along with a friendly fly to keep her company....

(This is my 2nd in a series of tribute paintings to the great American poet, Emily Dickinson.  The first is here)

"I Heard a Fly Buzz...." -- A view to the side

And, I'm pleased and happy to say my entry, "I Heard a Fly Buzz...." tied for "Member's Mention" (or, 2nd Place) in the show!  (And there were more than four entries this time around, lol ;-) )  Thanks so much, EBSQ....!

"I Heard a Fly Buzz...":  Emily Dickinson Tribute (4 x 6 Oval)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

"If I Had a Hammer....": Pete Seeger Tribute, for EBSQ's August 'Toolbox'-themed Art Exhibit

8 x 10 Portrait of the folk legend, Pete Seeger, in tribute to his classic song

"If I Had a Hammer....."

EBSQ, the internet community of self-representing artists of which I have been a long-time member, features monthly, themed online art exhibits.  One of the shows this past August had the theme "Toolbox".  This was my entry (as can be seen here).

The following was my artist statement:

My entry for the EBSQ 'Toolbox' exhibit features a tribute portrait of the late American folk musician, Pete Seeger (1919- 2014).   

When reflecting upon the theme 'Toolbox', the first tool to come to mind was 'hammer'.   Thinking about hammers had the classic vintage folk tune, "If I Had a Hammer", popping into my head.  Written by Pete Seeger in 1949 in support of the progressive movement, the song has endured through the decades, recorded as it has been by numerous fellow musicians, and taken up as a freedom song during the American Civil Rights Movement.  I myself have many fond recollections of "If I Had a Hammer" over the course of my life -- singing it round the campfire as a young girl with my scout troupe, and then later to my own two children when they were small.  I always appreciated the simple melody and uplifting lyrics.  For my entry, I painted a portrait of the young Pete Seeger, who was 30 at the time he wrote "If I Had a Hammer" (after a lifetime of musical achievement and acclaim, Mr. Seeger passed away just this past January at the age of 95).  A prolific composer and performer, the "tool" of Mr. Seeger's trade was his guitar, with which he was often photographed playing.  I swapped out the one tool for another in this tribute to Pete Singer and his timeless classic.... 

If I had a hammer, 
I'd hammer in the morning,
I'd hammer in the evening,
All over this land.

I'd hammer out danger.
I'd hammer out a warning.
I'd hammer out love, between
My brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.


"If I Had a Hammer...",  First Place Tie.....

There were but a total of four entries in the Toolbox show, still I'm very happy to say I tied for 1st Place....!   I got to split the $100 cash award prize with my fellow winner, April Trice -- $50 for each of us, how lovely!  Thanks to any who voted for me -- and many thanks to EBSQ....!


(And now...., just a side note to add here, for interest and posterity.  As we all know by now (because I harp on it constantly in here), I no longer purchase new art supplies (aside from a few notable exceptions like paint and brushes) if I can in any way avoid it.  It's my own little, personal attempt to resist adding to our society's problems with over-consumption and the dreaded Affluenza  (and yes, I realize my small actions in this regard aren't likely to save the world any time soon, but can at least sleep at night in regards to my own personal artistic pursuits).  This personal moratorium includes the purchase of canvases, or even purchasing the ingredients to stretch my own canvases (too lazy to do that anyway)....because I often come across perfectly suitable alternatives when I happen to be out and about (tag sales, thrift stores, and the like (with a big emphasis this time on "the like")).  As a result, my paintings are typically created upon found wood or wooden plaques, or even supports I make myself using 2nd-hand picture frames.  I've amassed a decent hoard of these painting supports by now -- out of which the one for this entry was fished.  It's actually just a regular, gallery stretched, 8 x 10 store-bought canvas, but how it came to be mine is the more interesting part....

Years ago, when my husband and two very small children and I first moved back here to my hometown, we chanced upon a home to rent with which we fell in love.  With so many of the features we wanted in a house, we felt we had really hit the jack-pot -- cozy and old and with loads of character, a decent location, decent size (and nice to stretch out after apartment dwelling), nice yard, near the things we liked to walk to, and, most importantly, all at a reasonable rate.  We lived there for a time, until ready to purchase a house of our own.  And so we eventually moved out -- still, I always kept a very special place in my heart for our sweet old rental....

After we resettled, our cute little rental, which we were so happy with and had such good memories of,...turned into a something more of a haunted house.  It was within several years that we noticed it looking pretty beat up.  A few more years, and it was clearly run down.  Trashed even.  Hoarders, or something, had taken over, with piles of useless junk overflowing the driveway and yard, windows broken and patched with duct tape, chunks of stucco missing and shingles falling off.  What the heck happened?  Sometimes we would walk or drive by, and just pause to take in the mess that had become what had been a big part of our lives.  Where we'd had parties and celebrations, and heck, just lived. We couldn't image who could have done this to 'our' house -- much less that our old landlord would have ever allowed such a thing....!  That mystery was never solved.

Fast forward to just over a year ago, when my daughter and I were bike riding, cruising through our old neighborhood.  Passing our old house, it was clear by now it was completely empty and utterly abandoned, trashed beyond repair, and even slated for demolition.  We parked our bikes in the alleyway behind the house, and looked and looked.  She was young when we'd moved out (4 years old maybe?), but my daughter could still conjure up lots of memories.  We climbed through the gaping holes in the fence into the yard to get a closer look, pointing out nostalgic landmarks we once used to enjoy ourselves -- the patio, the outdoor brick fireplace (or, the place where it once stood anyway), the swing set, all while taking care not to trip all over the assorted junk and crap strewn about posing a booby trap.  We got a little closer, and closer still....until we were pretty much standing right next to it, staring at the gaping back door.  I'm sure you can guess what came next of course.   "Oh no, they didn't", you might be asking.  But yes, we did.  How could we not?  Our poor old house!  *OUR* house.  I know, I know -- risky, plus it was trespassing.  But I wanted to see it one last time before she was demolished for good....

Well, suffice it to say, time had not been kind.  Not easy to see the house that I'd loved so much, and held such fond memories of just 10 years before, in such state of wreck and ruin.  Still I'm glad my daughter and I had our chance to say goodbye.  And it was in there, amidst all the shattered glass and beer bottle caps (gazillions of them) all over the floor, that I stumbled upon this little, 8 x 10 canvas.   There was paint on it, but to call it a "painting" would be way too much of an exaggeration.  Just some color splashed around, and what looked possibly like some Chinese characters, although it could have just been some sort of attempt at 'abstract' something or other.  But, I took it home with me.  And when it came time to paint my little tribute to Pete Seeger here, I sanded it a bit, gessoed it, sanded it again -- and voila, good as new.  Was it stealing?  Technically, I suppose -- though guess what?   I can't say I feel much like a thief.

The house was pushed over and hauled off to the landfill just a few weeks later.  One thing I do know though...I sang this song many times over to my two young kids during countless bath times/bedtimes/naptimes, in that old house.....)