Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Week with "Marilyn"**

Platinum Blonde is a 6x6 oil by Shirley Fachilla.

Okay, it wasn’t a week with Marilyn. It wasn’t a week with Michelle Williams either.
And it really wasn’t a week, more like five days, widely separated.
But the open studio model reminded me of Marilyn, same sort of hairstyle and color, that pale, pale platinum blonde.
She wore a dress about the color of her hair and struck a pose that created a foreshortened head and face. (Quite hard to paint. See Artful Definitions.) But I loved the lighting, all that paleness in high contrast. So later after the open studio session, I painted her again. Unlike most of my paintings which are a la prima (again visit Artful Definitions), I kept coming back to this little one and redoing it. This is where the week comes in.
I never quite got it the way I wanted. But I did get closer. Sometimes, it’s good to revisit. This is my lesson from my week with Marilyn.

**For non-movie goers, My Week with Marilyn is a new release about Marilyn Monroe starring Michelle Williams.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Dreams of Sicily"

Dreams of Sicily is a 6x6 oil by Shirley Fachilla

A little less than two years ago, my husband and I went to Sicily. We circumvented the island and also traveled to the interior. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever experienced. It possesses great natural beauty. Its hills, cliffs, beaches, sea are spectacular. And the buildings left behind by the eleven or more invasions and subsequent populations are enormously evocative and beautiful.

This little painting is of some rooftops in Palermo. As you can see in the painting, the weather wasn’t always glorious. But the island always was.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Out of Context...

Girl in the Red Skirt is a 20x10 open studio oil by Shirley Fachilla.

If you’re a politician, being quoted out of context is almost always bad. But usually phrases and sentences which have been taken out of context are those that capture a thought or feeling best. They are the remembered quotes, the sayings which capture important truths, the lyrics that define an emotion.

“Out of context” seems to work in somewhat the same way in painting. Take a thing or person out of context and that thing can become iconic. Velazquez sometimes stripped his figures down to just the figure and its shadow, omitting even a horizon line. The person painted remained a very specific individual and yet functioned also as an “Everyman,” an icon, if you will, of our humanity. Manet who adored Velazquez consciously copied that technique in The Fifer, a work stunning in both its simplicity and emotion.

Every daily painter who paints just a pear and no more, every painter from life who strips away the studio backdrop and shows only the model is using the “out of context” Velazquez methodology. And every once in a while, in the hands of someone like Julian Merrow-Smith or Don Gray, it works as marvelously as it did for Velazquez.

Is it too early to send an invitation?

Pieces by (clockwise from left to right) : Susan Harlan, Janet Garner, Shirley Fachilla, Mike Martino and Topper Williams. So many ...