Counting your blessings is good but sometimes it’s a good idea to look at your accomplishments.
This painting is one of my all time favorites. I first showed it in 2012 at the Grand Marché d’art Contemporain at the Bastille. It went to a gallery in Honfleur and sold quickly.
I painted 66 large format oils of NYC. One I took to BHV, the chic department store on rue de Rivoli. Searching for the framing department I walked around with it under my arm. Some lady asked me, “C’est où qu’on trouve les affiches comment-ça?” Where can you find posters like that?
“I don’t know? I painted this.”
At the time I was painting in a fabulous atelier in Ivry-sur-Seine at La Fabrique des artistes. No heating, no hot water. Industrial, totally bohemian. I had a boiler to make tea and a microwave that I never hooked up. The boiler was good because that way I could wash my paint brushes without freezing my hands.
From January to July I painted 168 paintings and sold 153.
I painted 4 mannequins. One sold.
Since August 15th I’ve painted another 102 small paintings. In November I’ll know how many of those have sold.
In August I began painting for Carré d’artistes Sedona gallery. At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to paint desert landscapes. It didn’t seem to fit with the last nine years of urban landscapes. But painting the South West has been liberating, I am thrilled.
My technique has changed. Producing a massive amount of work, painting new scenes and the two months that I did not paint (from June to August when I painted the mannequins) are what boosted my technique.
If you haven’t seen my 15 second video tutorials yet, check out my instagram feed. See the links up on the right.
I remember crossing the desert when the roads were dirt. Red dust rose in our station wagon’s wake. We kids played in the back of the station wagon. No seat belts. Every time we stopped I touched a cactus. They looked soft. I never learned.
Three naked graces arrived yesterday. I’d awaited anxiously for their delivery.
Before I can paint them, I have to sand down the surface because mannequins are coated with some industrial super-paint. Nothing sticks to it. This makes sense if you consider how abused they are during their lives. Shipped around, dressed, undressed, scratched and scraped. The super paint, whatever it is, makes them easy to clean, but a bitch to paint. Nothing sticks to it. Not even spray paint.
I never realized how ugly mannequins are. This is what we women are supposed to look like. This is today’s canon of beauty. Mannequins. They have monstrously long legs, toddler-sized torsos, male adolescent shoulders, and feet fit for a fairytail princess. Not the feet in the photo, those are mine.
Canons of beauty change through the ages and contemporary beauty canons differ from place to place.
The first time I understood what beauty canon meant, I was in Piazza Signoria admiring Giambologna and Ammanannti’s fountain of Neptune. Of course I’d never really looked at the nymphs. It was Neptune’s privates I admired. Those and his perfectly sculpted six pack abs. (I stole that line from a contemporary romance novel.)
My ex-husband, who stood next to me, said, “Guarda il collo di quello, è mostruoso.” Look at that one’s neck, it’s monstrous. He was looking at the nymphs. And probably watching me, while I stared at the rock hard privates.
We joked about the nymph coming to life. Rising from the marble basin and walking through the piazza. If she was human she would have been Frankenstein’s latest creation, the young Japanese tourists, who were photographing Neptune’s junk, would have run screaming, sure that Godzilla had returned.
Canons of beauty are not only monstrous mannequins. They touch everything and they evolve. What was beautiful yesterday is monstrous today.
Ever been to a dog show? Dogs have character. Man bred and selected them to work. Poodles were hunting dogs. They were shaved in certain places so they could move easily through the brush. Their coats were left long in specific places to keep them warm. In the advent of the dog show, dog breeds were selected for beauty and their looks were distorted.
Now I have some serious sanding to do so I can grace those three monsters.
As I look at the forty plus paintings laid out mosaic style on the floor of my atelier this rainy Sunday I think, “That doesn’t look like much work.”
But hey, when you look at anything finished you never know how much thought and work is behind it. I did these in two weeks, working weekends and until midnight most days. It feels good to know I can work that fast.
These will be for sale at Carré d’artistes gallery 66 rue Saint André des Arts, 75006 Paris.