Wednesday, May 19, 2010

vanguard

Artist, Alice Neel painted portraits of people, pets, strangers.
Portrait of feminist Kate Millet
Portrait of Robert Smithson
Portrait of Alice Neel, painted by Phyllis Johnson
Alice Neel
Many know me by this "famous" photo taken by this incredibly talented artist and friend. I thought I would give you a little history behind the photo. I tear pictures out of magazines of things I want ranging from good hair cuts to pyrex bowls. In the rag trade, we would refer to them as "tear" sheets and they would provide the inspiration for collections, perched precariously on what was called "mood" boards.

My tear sheet was an elegant lady, standing in a room, looking at easy in a long gown as if she were waiting to be picked up by some chap in a chariot. I immediately thought to myself, that is it, I need to have some sort of photo that captures the way I feel when I am at ease or at the easel. Did you know that the origin of the word is dutch from the 16th century "ezel" which translates to "ass" - in German, "donkey" which an easel is somewhat like a horse or donkey in it's design providing support for the canvas.

Early that morning, I gathered my garments and hopped in my car for a road trip to my friend's home and as soon as I arrived, we got down to business. She has arranged the set up according to my image and we had such fun. I did my best to keep the photographer entertained with silly quips as I imagined my children hollering at me, wanting to know what was for dinner or where was that pesky physics book? Somehow, falling into the role of an artist, quickly made me forget all about the demands of mother-hood and at ease with who I really was first (B.C)
before children.

I love my family, and I adore my children but when I am at the easel, I find myself intensely at ease. Mind you, it is work and is one part love and the other labor. My Father always told me to "do what you love and it will love you back." I want to make a collection of images so that when I am old and gray and my fingers are curled from arthritis, my children will ask me, when, why and how did I look so at ease in the midst of motherhood which is what I say about my very own Mother.

Now, I am on a mission to paint my self-portrait. I feel at ease now to paint an intense portrait.
Inspired by Alice Neel and her vanguard ways. Any vanguards inspiring you lately?

27 comments:

The Zhush said...

This was so lovely, all of it! (and had NO idea about the origins of the word "easel"!)

Shannon Morris (Georgia College Curator) said...

The portrait of Robert Smithson is very intriguing. I have read so many of his writings. This portrait really conveys his complexity.

pve design said...

Zhush,
yes, each 3 or four letter word has some origin, at least that is what I tell myself when my inner vanguard needs managing.
pve

pve design said...

Shannon,
Alice Neels work is on show in Houston now and then to London. I really want to go and see her work.
Her ease of finding the "complex" in paint....She fascinates me.
pve

**WE BLOG ARTISTS** said...

Oh...now you have put me in a painting mode and that exact feeling you have...I have too. What with my little girl standing next to me reciting this comment whilst crunching cornflakes as I type...
My mother always said follow your Love and you will be happy...I am happy that I have chosen my path.I wish to in the near future be able to grow as a painter and as an artists...these years when our little ones need so much from us puts our first love(art) on hold a little...even though I try to keep it up.
I can't wait to see your completed portrait...and even all those magical stages inbetween.
Egon Schiele was and still is someone I always have admired...his passion and no-nonsense...
Then there are long lists on contemporary painters and illustrators who I admire...Stefanie Beyler being one and Kirsy Gordon being another...
I was trained as a Portrait Artist...perhaps one day I can call myself one!
HUGS
Char

BALLET NEWS said...

WOW ! Just lovely, thank you

Helen Young said...

I'm inspired by Nancy Lancaster and Billy Baldwin. They created comfortable interiors where guests felt at home. And they loved beauty.

La Maison Fou said...

That is great Patricia;

You have inspired me and I am looking into the same. I have done self portraits in school; but I think I would be much more effective to show the "soul" and all the wonderful imperfections that we seem to acquire by age and child rearing! Ah ha!

Thanks for the bit of inspiration!

L.

Janell @ Isabella and Max said...

I've always wondered what the story behind the photo was, since seeing it. It is very striking and certainly does set the mood you are describing!

Ideezine said...

PVE,

Every picture tells a story and leads us down another's path where we find ourselves. Likes attract likes. Children know this intuitively as adults we re-learn constantly. Thanks for sharing the story behind the picture.

Bette

Mademoiselle Frou-Frou said...

yes that photo of you is quite famous now!
how lovely to read the story of the woman behind the portrait.
xox alison

Hamptontoes said...

Oh, I love the story of you at the easel. I was curious about that one!

VictoriaArt said...

What a lovely conversation with us... I have always been inspired by Paula Modersohn -Becker a German painter from the turn of the last century. She was one of the lesser known, but groundbreaking painter in Germany at the time, she died young after childbirth...She has always reminded me of the importance to use ones given time...
What a great idea of a self portrait!
And this photograph is wonderfully you!

XX
Victoria

home before dark said...

I am inspired by the late Joanna Reed who gardened her life on her terms. As she got older she was quoted about her penchant for pruning with a machete because she didn't have time for the small stuff. Everyday she got up and put on her uniform of jeans, turtleneck and wellies and began her day with zest. Amen sister!

pve design said...

Home before dark -
I could use the spirit of Joanna in my garden or Nancy Lancaster-
pve

LindsB said...

I think that portrait of you is just stunning...actually more then stunning if there is a word. You look so timeless and beautiful!

My Notting Hill said...

I've always wanted to know the back story of your photo!

pretty pink tulips said...

I love knowing the background of that famous photo. At ease at the easel. That's how I'll always think of you!!

traci zeller designs said...

I love that photo - I think it's absolutely fantastic - and now it's even more fun, knowing the story behind it!

Michael B. Gordon said...

pve,
Thanks for visiting my blog while researching another vanguard, Joanna Reed. The late Dutch garden designer Henk Gerritsen has also inspired me. You blog is beautiful. Glad to hve found it.

little augury said...

I have read this post several times. It is so very layered and so much to appreciate. Firstly-Alice Neal's beautiful face shining -very much like a lady I loved when I was small-Mrs Paradise (Rose)! Your dedication to your art, and need to have it. Not to mention the self portrait, can not wait and your photograph is the best anywhere- perfect, vermeer. pgt

simply seleta said...

I read this post twice too. It's rich with inspiration. Love the easel and ease story. I'm always at ease when designing, writing or doing ballet.

Desiree Grosse said...

I love this portrait of you... thank you forthe story behind it...when I first saw it...I thought ...What a beautiful Vermeer painting...wishing you a pleasant Friday. Cheers.

sarah said...

hey there!! thanks for welcoming me to blog land...love you blog...you look like you have AMAZING style!! cant wait to follow you!

LaurenFaythe said...

I think your portrait is fabulous - I too, feel at peace at my easel. Have a great weekend!

Summer is a Verb said...

Oh, you know firsthand that I too am a big fan of tear sheets. I've said it before and I'll say it again, great minds...XXOO

Deliciously Organized said...

What a wonderful back story. I'm so glad you shared. I always wondered about that fantastic photo of yours. So lovely.