“Paint Me Like Ophelia” began when Kate told Leonardo “Paint me like one of your French girls”. I kept the painting “Ophelia” by Sir John Everett Millais in my mind while I worked. This painting was the most beloved work from the Pre-Raphaelite school and is known for its realistic detailed background.
The bear here likes the movie “Titanic”, but chose to pose in a river, finding it convenient. And then, she was a Hamlet fan.
I made the riverbank and river from pieces of photos I took from the back platform of a train car barreling down the White Pass Summit near Skagway, Alasksa.
Here are two friends on a vigil. There’s an iron gate and territory beyond with a path, suggesting a journey. The girl is holding a necklace with a portrait of a remembered friend.
A candle can symbolize the transience of life. It can be the light for a journey and for their vigil. I’ve given them a Zippo lighter. Her bare feet show vulnerability.
I chose end of day lighting. The picture is about our position of strength while living with the potential of loss.
The background is a reimagined version of the 1857 painting “White Mountain Scenery” by Asher Brown Durand. The girl’s face is an ancestor’s. The shoes are in the Rijks Museum.
In the 17th century, new luxuries from all over the world were pouring into Dutch ports. Dutch artists began to put the bounty into still life paintings – You’ll see walnuts, lobster, cherries, grapes, pomegranates, berries, oranges and lemons, silver serving pieces….Think sumptuous.
You won’t see watermelon or pineapple in the paintings, but you will see tulips. In the early 16oo’s a tulip bulb might cost more than a house in Amsterdam. The priciest tulip bulbs produced “broken” blooms, which had streaks of color. The Semper Augustus, with a white background and symmetrical, crimson flames running up the petals, was the most coveted. At one time only 12 bulbs existed.
People were aware of their mortality. Amsterdam suffered plague outbreaks during the century. Many paintings have insects, wilting flowers and spoiled fruit, which showcased painting skills and also symbolized decay and mortality. These still lifes show the push and pull between pleasurable bounty and impermanence.
“Still Life Takedown” has a cast of insects and animals disassembling a still life after the artist finished painting. A snail makes off with a cocktail olive, a rabbit munches a fine Semper Augustus tulip, a hedgehog is about to walk off wearing a pineapple, a bee buzzes in a wine glass and two butterflies abscond with an orange, peeled just as you see in this genre. Bounty and impermanence, but perhaps more fun.
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