I know, I know, it's been quite some time since I last posted. I suddenly kind of lost all my momentum. There has been a lot of activity in my daily life, but not much of it centered around my studio or painting. It always feels like there are endless chores to be done once decent weather arrives and while much of it is actually enjoyable some of it is, also, tedious, and backbreaking.
I finally have returned to working on the florals that my collector back in Ontario has requested, including this hydrangeas painting. It's is very similar to the smaller one I did a few years back but it has some looser, softer edges, and is not so geared to photographic rendering. I intend to paint a false frame around it and allow a blossom or two to come over the edge of that frame. One of the things that especially attracts me to hydrangeas is the variety of colours and tones that can be found in even the same blossom group. Depending upon the maturity of the blossom the colour advances through a series of fascinating changes, and these are also dependent upon the chemical makeup of the soil. It can get finicky, however, and I seem to be losing my patience for fine detail. That is not necessarily a bad thing, in fact, I think it is a sign of my own maturation artistically speaking. In any case, Joanne, if you read this, I will let you decide which hydrangea version you prefer and that will be yours! (Every artist should have a Joanne in their life!).
Another side tracking effort has been designing and considering how to make my Mother-of-the-Groom outfit to wear to my son's upcoming wedding in late August. It has almost come to be expected of me that I will make something of my own design and I find it challenging, exciting, and also tiring. The designs are not completely original...they are based on outfits I have seen elsewhere that I think might look ok on me and then I reconfigure and alter to work with my own ideas. I had wanted to take a pattern making course when I was in my early 20's but it wasn't feasible then so I had to learn by trial and error how to modify existing patterns. Now it is possible to take pattern making courses quite easily but at my age I don't feel the inclination to get too involved. Haute couture is an art form in itself and requires a great deal of time to properly develop, time which I don't really have any more. I have made outfits for others, even redesigned and remade an old wedding dress once for someone else with lots of hand beading, etc., but I never wanted to go into the business of fashion design.
Silk is my absolute favorite fabric but as a vegan I have begun to have some serious qualms about the boiling alive of the silk worm cocoons in order to reel off the silk without breaking the cocoon. Thousands die this way in order to make a single yard of fabric. I found a company called Aurora Silk in Portland, Oregon that sells silk that has been taken only from cocoons where the moth has allowed to break free and live it's short, but happy life. Cheryl Kolander is the company founder and uses a method that can still weave a beautiful, smooth silks from the broken cocoons and offers a variety of weights and weaves. She also deals in cottons and hemp fabrics and all products are fair trade where families in Asia are encouraged to use no-chemical methods and are fairly paid for their work. Some of the silks are the traditional type from unbroken cocoons. More details and information are to be found from her website: www.aurorasilk.com
I worked up some quick watercolour sketches after finding a design from Mon Cheri that I really liked, designer Ivonne Dome. Basically a loose fitting dress with layers in the skirt (she uses three) and some cut at an angle and on the bias. These include a lightweight soft jacket, which those of us "mature" women need to cover the upper arm which is often less than firm, shapely, or attractive! I am considering going with only two layers for the skirt as I am short (and getting shorter with age...sigh) and don't want to be overwhelmed by the skirt. One layer of silk is the l.8 oz weight and an overlay is the half oz. weight, so the whole thing is floaty and soft...I hope:-) I made a quick mock up after spending days altering the two Quick Sew patterns that I found to be closest to the design I want. The dress is just in broadcloth I had in my stash and I used cheesecloth to work out the jacket drape, not bothering with the sleeves at this point. The cheesecloth is the perfect weight! The mock up is, of course, kind of stiff and heavy so does not represent the nice soft drape that I will get when I use the silk.
I've pretty much decided to go with the undersea design, using a pale turquoise (my friend Diana calls it a Seafoam), blending into a soft and light version of Sap green. The light overlay will have carefully painted wavy seaweed like shapes coming up toward the light turquoise and just painted fairly free form on the jacket. Light, light, light I have to remind myself since dyes on silk can be incredibly potent and bright, which is beautiful, but not what I want for my outfit. You can see the picture I am basing the design on, the lovely mauve dress made by Mon Cheri.
For anyone interested, the black and red scarf design above is an idea I have for a gift to give my son's future Mother-in-law, MaryAnn, as I will be staying with her and her husband when I am back in upstate NY for the wedding. I think I'm going to change it to some blue lilies with gorgeous green stems and leaves on the black background as I have noticed that she wears a lot of black and blue clothes in her FB photos (she is very elegant looking) but also has a wonderful, easy going personality so I hope the scarf will reflect these things and that it will be something she will enjoy wearing.
I am very lucky to have an alternate outfit to fall back on. My artist friend, Diana, has kindly offered to lend me the pretty dress she wore for her daughter's wedding a couple of years ago, (that Seafoam colour she noticed in my watercolour sketch) and since we are about the same size I will take her up on it if for any reason my creation turns into a disaster and I have no time to make something else. It's always good to have a plan B.