Tatiana and Olga 2010

Tatiana and Olga  2010

Monday, April 4, 2011

OTM 1915 Update

As readers of this blog know, I'm current painting Grand Duchess Olga, Tatiana and Maria Nicolaievna Romanova using as a reference a photo of the sisters taken in 1915 as they await transport to the funeral of their father's cousin, Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich . His was the last state funeral of Imperial Russia .

In three days time , I will have been working on the 38X48 painting for 6 months!

People have stopped asking me when I will be finished and it's just as well, since it seems I'm the last to know. I thought I would be done long before this. But every few painting sessions I see something I had previously missed and then it has to be included of course. Or I see a mistake and that has to be corrected naturally...

However after saying all this I must add how rich and rewarding this experience as been...the challenge is how much enjoyment can one stand? I have already exceeded my wildest hopes. It would be temping to simply say " enough". But then the question is : how much river boat gambling can you take? Because once you are fairly far along, the courage it takes to risk what you have achieved in the hopes of gaining more can be exhausting .

Lucky I was always able to reach the next stepping stone. But one could easily lose the one and not achieve the other. Once a new plateau was reached, I would think " well that's great. I'm finished in that area." But after awhile I found I would see the need go further....particularly if other areas were improved ....and every time one changes one thing, everything had to be reconsidered. So many times there was nothing for it, but to gather my courage again and address the situation...almost always the soundness of this decision was shown and quickly.

I got the girl's likenesses quite early and this was vital for the sake of encouragement. Then it was a matter of putting in the time for everything else. The photo is very rich in detail and the arrangements of the sisters is also fairly complex in that Maire is neither standing or fully siting ...she is half siting on Olga chair's arm.

This was a habit of Marie's. It's touching to see she has her arm around her eldest sister. Marie's thumb is visible on Olga's right forearm. Marie was a warm and loving young woman. But because of her unusual sitting position, her torso is twisted. That makes it tricky. Part of her body is turning away from us . So I was thrilled when just a day or so ago I was finally able to make sense of the center of the painting, where Marie's order of St. Catherine meets Olga's right shoulder.... and we can see Marie's position properly

Painting the red sashes helped a great deal. The sashes don't go straight across...they go up and down and over in wavy lines. Just this item alone has been fascinating to paint...to sort out what one "sees" and what is there. Over and over I receive benefits from doing just what the photos says....and still I don't feel limited by that.

Perhaps because I'm adding colour, or simply because a painting of a photo is not a photo ...nor can it be no matter how exact. The last major item to be painted are the girl's Order of St Catherine, really almost the icing on the cake.

When will the painting be finished? I can't seem to say. However I can promise that when it is, no one will be disappointed in the result.


  1. Hi!
    Guess who? Of course you cant'... :D i'm Sunny, from the alexander palace forum... i've read you blog here for a while, and i like it so much! I'm happy to find you here, and wanted you to know I really LOVE your works :D
    By the way, thank you so much for you PM: I knew it, but i made an error typing and didn't see it... it's not so easy for me to see a typing error when i write in another language... it's funny, 'cause i'm degreed in foreign languages, literatures and linguistic (!!! saying it like that it seems i'm a genius, or something... i'm not!!) and it should be natural to me writing in another languages... the truth is, i've never been in a foreign forum before. I've known about the alexander palace forum since a long time, but my english wasn't good enough to write in it, and moreover, i was too shy to write. I believed i should be english mothertongue to write there, so i just read your posts, saved some rare photo, and nothing more...
    Ok, i'm going to stop chatting; i cant' wait to see your next paintings...
    see you on the forum, of course :)

    Sunny (Martina)

  2. Thank you Sunny for stopping by! I don't get many comments here, it's a thrill when I do!

    Thank you for what you say about my art work. It means so much to me that others who love the family like my paintings of them....since someone like yourself knows what they looked like! I really do the paintings for myself and other Romanov enthusiasts. :)

    Your English is more than good enough for AP forum! I'm glad you decided to start posting. Please keep doing so! I found what you said about hair dressing in older days very interesting.

    Since you say you have been reading my blog, you must know about the video I make for each painting. If not, please view them as they show how the portraits were painted. Even so it's still a mystery to me how they are happening! lol!

    I have been working on the current painting for just over 6 months...I'm doing the last major item, the girl's Order of St Catherine. I'm finding it tough going! But I'll get there!

    Thanks again for stopping by!

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