A Content-Driven Still Life

This spring, I’m working on a content-driven still life.

The items in this still life have meaning. The clock is one that was in my mother’s art studio as long as I can remember, until she died. I took it then. Before it was in her art studio, it hung in her kitchen in 1955 when she was a new wife. 

The picture is of her when she graduate from high school in May of 1955. Oh, my. Were we ever, any of us, that young? 

In 1980, Lynn and her husband, my father, went to Italy for their 25th wedding anniversary. It was the trip she had dreamed of.  In some place there, she bought that reproduction of David.  

The books are ones that she painstakingly collected - the entire “Time Life” series of old masters. When she died, my father was so grief stricken that he immediately gave them away, despite the fact that I had them marked. Who can think clearly when their wife (their life) of 43 years has just died? Anyway, I found a couple at a local 2ndhand book store, and it so happens that the two artists I found were ones I was interested in. 

The necklace is a jett necklace that belonged to my grandmother Jane. I’m named after her, sort of. It’s my middle name.

The seed bead collar belonged to my great aunt Lucille, one of the first women lawyers in Washington DC. It was crafted by my aunt Susie, my mother’s sister. 

The ring was my grandmother Jane’s wedding ring. Jane was a writer, a poet, to be specific. For some
Jane and Suzanne (Suzie), about 1958.  
 reason of all her grandchildren she specifically wanted me to have it. I’m not sure why. It was not a happy marriage. In fact, my research showed that she filed for divorce three times before it was finally granted, and then she ran off with a woman, Suzanne, who she met in her poetry group. Jane and Suzanne ran off in 1943 to California and lived there for about 15 or so years before returning to Ohio, because Jane’s father was dying. Jane’s father died in 1965, while my mother was pregnant with me, and Jane had a weird idea that I was the reincarnation of her father because as a baby, I like to wear hats.  

The beaded collar might remind you of the notorious RBG.  It should.  
Lucille, HS graduation, 1925
Lucille, my great Aunt, and my mother’s Aunt, was one of the fist women lawyers in Washing DC.  She put herself through law school in the 1930s, when women did not do such things. When I was 9, I remember asking her why she had never been married. She said, unflinchingly, “Well, the older I got, the less shit I was willing to put up with.” 

And then there is my my mother Lynn.  

Prom, 1955
Lynn and the other women that came before her were just a small sampling of the women who were my models. Lynn, however, was the woman for whom I would sit very, very still, when they needed a model for the classes she was teaching. And once she got her first Minolta camera outfit in the 70s, I was relentlessly pusued and photographed.  Lynn was the woman who cautioned me, when I was considering art school, that since I had 3 children to care for and was a single parent, perhaps I should consider doing something I could make a living at. 
Don’t grimace. She was right. 

I used a teeny tiny projector I bought online to project and then trace the image onto a 20x20 stretched canvas. I built the frame and stretched the canvas, and gessoed the surface.  This baby is all mine. 

First, I edited it in my ipad by going to “saturation” and taking it all the way down to zero. This renders the photo in B/W.  

Second, my tiny, cheap, and difficult projector was used to copy the photograph onto the 20” x 20” canvas.  This took about 30 minutes while I hunted for batteries for the only remote in existent that was shipped without them </whine>

I’ve decided to tackle this assignment by using a grisaille, over which I will glaze colors.  I’ll start with my favorite “gray” which is alizarin permanent and veridian. Mixed together just right, they make a lovely “black” that isn’t as harsh as lamp or other blacks. 

To this I’ll mix a 50/50 mixture of Zinc White and Titanium White, always in the water-solvable oils that I’ve taken a shine to.  My Mister brought me a ton of Daniel Smith water solvable oils for Christmas.  

I printed off a color picture of the original composition, and a B/W picture.  And so I shall begin. 

After about 3 hours, 

After another 2 hours:

Since there’s so much titanium/zinc white in this, I’ll have to let it dry for a while to do the fine detailing. 

Almost done….