This incredibly over the top dark pink dress, studded with roses of many different shades of pink, surrounded by shoes and mischievously emphasized by a pair of bright red boots glowed from a storefront in a medieval mountain town in Italy. I stopped, awestruck, and thought what a fantastic painting it would make. That was the beginning. The idea grew on me…not only of painting this wonderfully outrageous dress, but of doing a series of such delectable window displays as were to be found in Italy. Oh the ice cream shops and bakeries, wonderful tie stores, boots and bags not to mention chocolates, great wheels of cheese and huge wedges of nougat all being shown with such flare in the store windows. Such gorgeous displays were a wonderful delight to the senses. The project would be an ode to independent small shops with their creative ingenuity.
The idea remained vibrantly present when I returned to my home and studio in Utah. As a plein air pastel artist for decades, this is a huge departure from the work I usually do. I didn’t know if I could do it, either…to make a five foot drawing/painting from a quick cell phone photo, not to mention with oil paint, which I haven’t used in around twenty years. I was hoping my many years of observing and painting from life would help.
Before embarking on the task of stretching a large canvas and buying brushes and paint, I decided to make a full size preliminary pastel and bought a roll of gray photographic backdrop paper, not acid free, but it’s BIG. I covered a 40” x 60” piece of foam board with the paper and began to draw.
I love love love drawing big; there’s such a freedom to it, and it’s almost impossible to do landscape paintings outside that big.It was a new experience for me to be able to draw for as long as I wanted, irregardless of the time. Plein air painting is very time specific, light and shadow changing by the minute.I don’t think I’ve ever drawn so many roses in my life!
It was so much fun and I realized, yes! I could do this.It was fun to play around too with the shapes and colors of all the shoes. if you look closely you’ll see the changes.
There are still things that I would change were this the end product, certain combinations of shapes and juxtapositions…but for a start, it fills me with pleasure. I open the studio door and it shouts a joyful greeting to me.