Sunday, 6 October 2013

A Girl from Virginia

Just a brief post about a painting of mine that is currently on display at Principle Gallery in the historic centre of Alexandria, in Virginia, just a few minutes away from Washington DC.
The painting is included in the show Women Painting Women (r) evolution, of which I wrote previously.

A Girl from Virginia, 80x60 cm, oil on linen

       I decided I was going to paint something new for the exhibition as soon as I received the invitation to show alongside the WPW group. I had met Isley as she was sitting for a class and I really wanted to paint her again. She is a poet and a playwright, as well as looking as if she just climbed down from a painting by Titian. As it happens, while we were chatting and I explained her that the painting was to be shown in Alexandria, she told me that she grew up in England but was actually born in Virginia !

      The inspiration for this work comes in fact from Venetian painting, from this portrait by Giorgione. The motif of a woman seen in three quarters with a background of leaves was my starting point, but I did not want the painting to be a nude. Mine is a strong and confident woman who doesn't need the sensual gesture of showing a breast.

The leaves became a patterned fabric. I am always interested in painting pattern, I like the variations one can make while repeating it, and how pattern sets a rhythm to the composition, how it relates to the a subject relates, in this case being a cluster of activity in dialogue with the head.

   As I started working with Isley, space became one of the themes of the painting, particularly how the space in front of her was determined and defined by the position of her arms, while I decided to close the space behind her with a flat surface. 
   There is a large mirror in my studio, and as I used it to prop up the fabric, I realised I could see myself so I ended up adding a self portrait. I think this late move has given a meaning to the painting, making it about the painting process and the almost sisterly collaboration between painter and sitter.
   I didn't want to turn this into a double portrait though, and it looks as I succeeded in making myself inconspicuous, as many viewers miss my appearance at first (I like figures lurking in backgrounds).  I am happy with this work as I think there's a lot to look at and also it kept that classical feeling that I am so keen on and represents my roots.



 Being there at the opening of the show last month was very exciting, I had a great time with an amazing group of artists with which I have so much in common, we shared our experiences and I learnt and still, through an ongoing conversation, am learning very much from them. Many thanks again to Linda Brandon for inviting me.

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