Friday, August 17, 2012

Dear, Guess What??

I have been painting a piece for the New Mexico Centennial celebration. On January 6th, 1912  we became part of the Union. 
I had thought about the heritage of New Mexico, wanting to put into a painting my thoughts on my new home state and its people. Being about as white bread as a body can get, and as much as I love the pottery and art of the native Americans of New Mexico, I did not want to infringe on what I felt was their personal history for this piece. 
Having such white heritage made me think, what would my reaction have been if I had lived here at that time? How would I have learned of it? There was no internet, nor TV, and the newspaper was only published once a week here in Silver City. The Enterprise was not non-partisan by any stretch of the imagination. Remember this is the part of the country where Randolph Hearst mined and where his money funded many enterprises. So the newspaper would have been my opinionated link to the greater goings on of the attempt to achieve statehood.
Off to the library I went to look up the actual newspaper front page. It was so early, that all the papers were still in microfiche. I had not used a machine of this type since I was in college researching for a paper of my own. There was no entry for that day that spoke of the new state. In fact for January 6th, it was a pretty much the same old local newspaper with ads, reports of a murder, and political wrangling,  much as we have today.
Back home I went to set up for a still life reminiscent of the time and news. I sent my long suffering husband to the store for a 'pretty red apple with irregular form and modulated colors'. (Picture eyes rolling in his head and a gentle "OK, but it better be right, I don't have your eyes").
He did a great job.
If I had been here, reading in the early evening I would have had an electric light, maybe wire rimmed glasses and genteelly been drinking a cup of tea or coffee when I read about the news. This is how I came to the idea. painted from a real life set up. It therefore qualifies for this blog, having been painted in real life. 
Controlling the light for the setup was the hardest part.
I blocked it in using my new love, the eggbert brush, and lived with the block in for a day to see if it 'felt right'. The newspaper was the biggest obstacle, as I am not a sign painter. I did that part in acrylic first, then put oil glazes over the paper to integrate into the rest of the painting. The front page is a near approximation of the Silver City Enterprise masthead and a truncated headline from the Albuquerque paper, which did carry the news that day. Oil over acrylic is a proven working method and allowed me to redo the front page several times until it wasn't too objectionable. The period teacup and lamp are loving contributions from a new friend. In the background is a New Mexican black on black pot, filled with ivy ( I just had to put one in for regional flavor, couldn't help myself) . This painting is an amalgamation of underlayment of acrylic on the newspaper, lots of glazes and some direct alla prima painting.
Here is the resultant painting is called "Dear, Guess What??" It has been accepted into the open New Mexico show in Pinos Altos, starting this October. I was striving for the essence of the time, a personal experience of the news. Did I succeed?

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