A week ago I began a new painting which I'm calling (so far) The Blues Woman. It's a painting of Gaye Adegbalola, an extraordinary blues singer who was with Saffire - The Uppity Blues Woman until they disbanded after 20+ years last year. She is an amazing performer and a very, very cool woman! She has an attitude that I want! She'll be performing Thursday, October 6th at Crossroads Art Center as part of Beyond Barbie. In the meantime, I'm working on a portrait of her to include in my show, Not Barbie, opening at Crossroads Sept 16th.
Sometimes when I paint a canvas, I'll cover the whole thing in one sitting with a fairly vague layer of paint just to build up the paint and to start to give me a feel for the piece. Other times I'll work it one little bit at a time. The Blues Woman is done in the latter style. The piece is quite complex because of the chair, her tattoos, her gorgeous face, and the parts of her body sticking out from between the rungs of the chair. There are also two hands and two feet, and each of those takes almost as much time to paint as the face does! So this one is quite a lot of work. And such a pleasure! I love the feeling of hanging out with my models as I paint them. It's fun thinking about conversations we had while I was photographing them or about stories they told me. It's like having a friend in the studio with me all day long.
Here is the progression of this piece so far:
Sometimes when I'm working on a piece, it feels just right. Everything is working, and the image has a power of its own. This piece is like that for me. I'm excited each day to get into the studio to see what will evolve that day. I think about it during the evening and sometimes even dream about it at night. Gaye's piece feels particularly good to me. I can't wait to get back to it tomorrow! I'm hoping to finish her torso and perhaps get a leg done. She has wonderful tattoos which are going to challenge me once I get to them - it's tricky re-creating someone else's artwork, especially as it winds its way around a body, but tattoos are so special to their wearers, it would be disrespectful not to include them.
I'll post more images as I finish more!