Monday, February 21, 2011

How did I get here from there?

Okay, I will be the first one to admit that I am a creature of habit.  I tend to feel more comfortable following my own little routine where I do any household chores first, run errands if necessary and then work my way over to my art table and see where I want to take my journey that day.  Sometimes I will be inclined to finish up some pieces that I have started and on other days, my muse stops me and pushes me to a fresh piece of canvas and flashes images or ideas through my mind to gently push me towards a particular subject.  How can I refuse?  By this point, my mind is racing and the ideas are generating so quickly that it is almost impossible to jot down the impressions so that I have a general idea of where this piece of art is heading.

I was tidying up the kitchen the other night and picked up a rubber stamp that I have recently acquired.  It shows a woman, face on with her left arm extended over to her right shoulder.  To me, the stamp has an Art Deco feel to it.  At this point, my muse jumped in and propelled me towards my table and the next thing I knew, I was working on a piece of canvas 16" x 16" and had the outline of a woman painted towards the center of the piece.  I knew from what my muse was telling me that the only tubes of paint allowed on the table were to be titanium white, mars black, Payne's grey and another tube of a neutral gray.  I argued with my muse about the colours and we finally agreed that I really did need a bit of yellow and just a touch of a portrait pink to make the proper skin tone for my subject.  No point having her skin showing if I am not going to paint the flesh tone as accurately as possible.  Even though my muse objected, I did add a touch of blue to grey in some areas just to make a subtle change in the colour.

I have painted a simple black dress for my vintage lady with a black piece of fabric used as a scarf billowing out behind her.  The painting has a simple elegance to it.  I left an area on the woman's upper arm for a bracelet to be painted in, but both my muse and I feel that a bracelet is just a little too common for the lady in black.  I imagine this woman to be full of life, someone who seeks out adventure and might be described as a naughty young woman.  I do not have a problem with that, but I still need something to put on her upper arm in place of a generic bracelet that one might see on a debutante's wrist.  The muse and I scored the idea at the same time with both of us yelling "tattoo".  I wonder what my neighbours must think when they hear me, if they do, holler single words out loud?  They must be thinking that the crazy artist down the hallway is painting again or that I have a mental impairment that causes me to yell out random words. 

So, now I need to decide on what type of tattoo my naughty art deco lady might have had inked onto her arm.  I can imagine a tattoo parlour being astounded at the sight of a woman coming in to have a tattoo during that era.  Not too many women would have the attitude necessary to carry off such a project let alone have the tattoo on view for all to see.  But, my lady would.  She is everything that I am not.  Maybe that is why my muse is pushing me towards her in hopes that some of this woman's take charge, devil may care attitude will rub off on me.  Well, I am not running out to get a tattoo, that I can guarantee you!  Not that I have not thought about having one, but since I tend to get infections a little too easily, I do not want to risk the chance and have my upper arm infected.  I will leave the devil may care attitude to my lady in black. But, truthfully, just between you and I, I really have not totally discounted the idea of having a tattoo.  Shhhh! That will be our little secret.

As I sat back and thought a little more about the tattoo, thoughts of flowers started popping images in my mind.  For some reason, the thought and image of a calla lily captured my full attention and I sketched out a simple one on a scrap of paper.  To me, a calla lily has a simple air of elegance surrounding it and seemed appropriate for my painting.  So, I painted in the outlines of two small calla lilies where the tattoo is to be on the subject's upper arm.  It still needed something to give the tattoo an edgy feel to it.  But what could I add to the small area that would have impact on a viewer.  I did not want the tattoo to be the focal point of the painting, but I wanted a viewer to enjoy it once they discovered it.  I wandered around the flat for a bit, scanned my e-mail accounts and looked at some Art Deco web sites.  I was still at a loss for how to complement the calla lilies until my muse kicked in with the image of a spider web.  The lady is the spider and needs a web on her arm and so if you look closely, you will see the two calla lilies surrounded with a black web. 

I still have a lot of work to do on the painting.  The background is far from finished as is the face of my young woman, my lady of attitude.  I am putting up the painting in its unfinished state so that you can get an idea of how my muse and I have been communicating this week.  The two paintings to go with this central one have not been started as yet other than the concept of what each painting will contain being jotted down on a scrap of paper.  Let me know what you think.  I rather like the image even now in an unfinished format.  This painting intrigues me for some reason and I think there may be others done in a similar fashion, limited colour palettes and a combination of elements that one might not normally see together.  I think I can safely assume that not too many young women had tattoos during the Art Deco period, but then, maybe I am wrong.  But, is it not fun to think about this type of incongruity and then paint it?  I have had more fun with this painting despite the time it is taking to finish it. 

Hopefully, by Thursday, I will have finished this painting and made some headway with the two to accompany it.  This week should be a little less frenetic with no appointments and just time to sit down, paint brush in hand and let my muse whisper interesting thoughts or flash images through my head.  We make a good pair if I do say so myself.  I do tend to have a quirky sense of humour and my muse seems to be encouraging me along with suitable prompts.  It is a little scary to think of a muse as a person or presence in the room.  But, as long as this presence is on the same wave length as myself, then we should get along quite nicely. 

I hope your muse is encouraging you in your quest to find a journey of some sort, artistic or otherwise.  Have a great week and make sure you allow yourself time to just be yourself.  Take that time, use it lovingly and wisely, making the best use of it to further your dreams, whatever they may be.  If you do not try, you will never get.  Take that to mean whatever you want it to.  For me, it meant taking the time to paint and make art a constant in my life.  What I got from following this dream is a lot of new friends, a chance to work on new skills and an enjoyment of a part of life that I knew existed, but really thought of as being off limits.  The only reason it was off limits was because I did not believe in myself and was not willing to just take a chance on a journey in which I had no idea of where the destination might be.  Maybe, that is the best kind of journey.  Take a chance and see where yours takes you!

Sincerely,   Rutheemac

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