Not long after I finished those first three watercolors paintings I shared last week, I was inspired to try to capture something of the style and subject matter of some of my favorite artists.
I fell in love with the paintings of Odilon Redon and especially his paintings of boats. It’s not surprising, given my own love affair with the sea and boats and sailing. There was something so iconic about his images. His seas capturing the deep unconscious, his amazing skies, and the boats themselves, so graceful and buoyant, evocative of vast journeys into the subconscious, the unknown. I had to try my hand at that.
I created studies of two pieces, the one above in the header, and the one below. They aren’t copies. The colors are different, the composition. But if you know Redon’s work, you definitely know who inspired these.
The drawings themselves were simple, the people harder, but capturing some of his techniques, done in oil, with watercolor was a challenge, and the part I actually enjoyed the most. I wanted my paintings to have the richness of oils, to have that “primitive” look, and to look “old.” The blue sail one was my first and easier to paint for some reason. Here’s the original I painted.
I ended up toning down some of the gold at the bottom and the colorful reflections at the right in the final version. Now I’m not sure I should have done so.
The gold one was more of a challenge. It’s a study of his painting called “The Yellow Sail, Final Journey, Guardians of the Soul”. I love that title! It was challenging capturing the “souls” in the boat and those little bits of light floating away (the souls moving heavenward?) which I translated into butterflies (he paints lots of butterflies in his works). And that sea. I wanted blue/green, rather than his gold, but getting the right color, and getting a reflection of the sunset in the water, that was difficult. I reworked it too much in some places, but I think that added to the “primitive, old” look.
I think I’ve succeeded to some degree in what I wanted to do. Enough to want to frame these and put on my wall in more prominent places, our foyer. They just got back from the framers. But they looked a little lost in the bigger frames I’d ordered and wide matting, so I trimmed it down and put them into smaller frames. Here they are lined up on the couch. We’ll hang them on the wall later today.
I was especially pleased that my husband liked these as much as I do, even more than my paintings of our tropical travels. He likes the other study I did below as much. No, even more so. It is in our bedroom over a dresser where we see it each morning when we wake. I’m so lucky to have a husband who has the same taste in art and who loves my work (or me, least) enough to want to show it off.
I love the way her images, mostly women and girls, seem to appear out of thin air, or melt into it. That sense of oneness with one’s surroundings really speaks to me. Then of course the iconic image of Madonna and Child, mother and infant, is so heady with the evocation of unconditional love and acceptance, of nurturing and birth and creation, of life itself, that it’s hard for me to resist wanting to capture some of that.
And I think I did. At least enough to want to wake to it each morning. What do you think?