Tatiana and Olga 2010

Tatiana and Olga  2010

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Nikolaevna 1915

When all was said and done, my 48 X 36 painting of the Grand Duchess Olga,Tatiana and Maria Nikolaevna from a 1915 photo ,took nearly a year.

Remarkably, everything but their faces was a battle. The faces came in early and acted as north stars to keep me going. How could I quit if they were looking at me? It was getting the complicated dresses , body placements and creases to fit together properly that took the time. I painted Marie's skirt and Olga's sleeve many times over , even Marie's hat took a week to gain a foot hold much less the amazing veils worn by the other girls! But also one needs to take one's time in order to expand one's vision. I'd love to capture a good likeness and move on...but the paintings always seem to ask for more than that. They say: you have come this far...why not come a little further? So in a real sense I'm grasping and reaching footholds up a mountain's face as I paint ...that's how it feels.

Indeed...for me, as an untrained person, painting the Romanovs is like taking a trek across a mountain range and really, I can't predict what will happen. However I'm not complaining! It's a marvelous journey each time . I'm very blessed to have this creative endeavor in my life . But every inch of canvas has its story

It took a year... and I repainted many areas over and over , but it was never boring or repetitious because each time I had more knowledge about that area and was eager to apply it

The whole Romanov painting experience is a miracle to me

In this photo the three eldest daughters of Russia's last Tsar, Nicholas II , are awaiting transport to the last state funeral of Imperial Russia in 1915. It was for their father's cousin, Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich. It was a funeral for a Grand Duke and a world.

It's the only photo take of them that day that I have ever seen and it appears to be taken causally as a late minute affair....It's quite a picture of sisterly devotion and one can see Marie taking her place as a pillar of the family. Anastasia is missing because it was felt she was too young to attend .

I'm certain this photo of the girl's mother Empress Alexandra was taken at the same time. It's also a powerful photo and I believe I will have to paint this one some day...the suffering her face is remarkable

My Nikolaevna 1915 painting is now in the Romanov gallery I have established in my home.

This painting was so big, I had to make two videos and not just one. The first one is a short one just about the painting. The 2nd video puts the painting into context and tells the story of 1915, the family's own funeral 80 years after thier deaths and hope for the future one when Alexis and his sister join the rest of the family

Nikolaevna 1915

Nikolaevna 1915-1998

I'm well into my next Romanov painting and it's the first one from a photo taken in captivity. After spending nearly a year painting the three eldest daughters of the last Tsar, I knew the most famous one , Anastasia, would want her own! As with most of them, her face is well along as I labor though the skirt and hat. Her shirt is caught by the tree stump edge and that effects the creases. It may be a stump, but at time it appears to be a throne. It's both causal and formal at the same time. There is apprehension and caution on her face and small wonder. The world has turned upside down . I'm doing the whole figure, but I'm posting a close up of the painting in progress...

in progress: Anastasia 1917

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Romanov Sketchbook

I have recently begun making quick Romanov sketches besides my paintings and find them so enjoyable, I decided to compile a book of them called : Romanov Sketchbook.

Here are three new works

Olga Nikolaevna on board the Rus 1918

9x12 watercolour by Anne Lloyd 2011

This piece is based on the last known photograph of Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna taken on board the ship, Rus in May of 1918. After weeks of separation, Olga, her sisters , Tatiana , Anastasia and her brother Alexi were on their way to join their sister Marie and their parents in Yakerinburg. The family and four others with them were to die there on July 17, 1918

This is an especially poignant image Not only because it's the last known one of Olga. But also because it was taken on board a ship...and one remembers how much Olga Nikolaevna loved her family's yacht, the Standart . What a difference here and who can guess her thoughts?

Marie Nikolaevna wading in the Black Sea 1916

8x10 watercolour by Anne Lloyd 2011

This watercolour of Marie is based on a photo from a group of photographs taken of the family on the Crimean coast in 1916. It seems a rare impromptu day for the Romanovs as they are at the beach in their street clothes! Marie raises her hem as she wades in the waves. The wind was fluttering her collar and I have that as well .

Titania Nikolaevna letter writing in Tobolsk

9 x 12 watercolour by Anne Lloyd

This sketch is not based on a photo. But was inspired when I read a quote from one of Titania's letters in captivity. She wrote these days were hard , but....... " God will surely help us and we will meet in better times" .

While it is not based directly on a photo of Tatiana , I did use a photo of Anastasia sitting at this desk in the girl's bedroom as a reference. I will be making a number of images about the time where we have no photos...the family's final days

After 8 months, my 1915 painting of Olga , Marie and Tatiana dressed for the last Imperial Russian state funeral is completed and I will be doing a photo about it shortly.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

OTMA 1916

A small post with big photos of the four daughters of the last Russian Tsar

Olga and Tatiana



OTMA's final formal portrait was taken in their mother's drawing room at Alexander Palace. It was one of the few rooms not destroyed during Nazi occupation.

Alexandra's drawing room as it appears today

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.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dr. Botkin's last letter.

Dr. Eugene Botkin with his children, Tatiana and Gleb.

I recently read Dr. Eugene S. Botkins's last letter, addressed to his brother, Alexander. I was so moved by Dr. Botkin's letter and what this man says , I had to make a video.

But there are so few photos of Dr. Bokin that I know of, that I decided to made drawings of him especially for this video to illustrate his letter.This letter was found by the White forces in 1918 when they captured Ekateringburg Siberia, and searched " The House of Speical Purpose " as it was called, where the last Russian Tsar and his family was held in the early to mid summer of 1918.

Dr. Botkin was one of four companions that were still with the family at the time of thier deaths.

They were :

Footman : Aleksei Egorovich Trupp
Maid: Anna Stepanovna Demidova
Cook : Ivan Mikhailovich Kharitonov
and of course, Dr.Yevgeny Sergeyevich Botkin .

Dr. Eugene S. Botkin (1865-1918) was the court physician to the last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas Romanov, and his family. He took this position in 1908. When the family was arrested and imprisoned in 1917, Dr. Botkin elected to join them.

Because doctors were so scarce, the Bolsheviks would have allowed Dr. Botkin his freedom at any time. But his physician's oath was more to him than his life and he writes about this in his letter.

This is the first time I made art for a video...usually I make the video for art! In my research, I found an excellent blog post about Dr.Botkin.

This was quite a man http://tinyurl.com/48mse9j

Here is the text to Dr. Botkin's last letter

I am making a last attempt at writing a real letter -- at least from here -- although that qualification, I believe, is utterly superfluous. I do not think that I was fated at any time to write to anyone from anywhere.

My voluntary confinement here is restricted less by time than by my earthly existence. In essence I am dead -- dead for my children -- dead for my work ... I am dead but not yet buried, or buried alive -- whichever, the consequences are nearly identical ...

The day before yesterday, as I was calmly reading ... I saw a reduced vision of my son Yuri's face, but dead, in a horizontal position, his eyes closed.

Yesterday, at the same reading, I suddenly heard a word that sounded like "Papulya". I nearly burst into sobs. Again -- this is not a hallucination because the word was pronounced, the voice was similar, and I did not doubt for an instant that my daughter, who was supposed to be in Tobolsk, was talking to me ...

I will probably never hear that voice so dear or feel that touch so dear with which my little children so spoiled me ...

If faith without works is dead, then deeds can live without faith ...

This vindicates my last decision ... when I unhesitatingly orphaned my own children in order to carry out my physician's duty to the end,

as Abraham did not hesitate at God's demand to sacrifice his only son.

And now the video

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Painting update and a video

I have started month 4 on my painting of the three eldest daughters of Russia's last Tsar depicted when they were about to attend the last state funeral of Imperial Russia in 1915. The painting is taking some time! But it's fairly complex arrangement. Three portraits and just as challenging, the mourning out fits! I have discovered a great deal about a photo I have known for 40 years.

For one thing , Olga Nicolaievna, the Grand Duchess who is sitting, her veil does not end at her waist as I thought all this time. That is simply a fold. The veil goes all the way to the ground!It's all that material one can see on our right and Olga's left. She and her sister, Tatiana must of seemed almost tee-pees of grief when they stood. Because they mostly wore the same out fits, even though Tatiana is in deep shadow, we have a good idea what she wore this as well. This is a help for an artist...you have 2 chances to see the garment.

The black on black embroidery on Olga's dress was a discovery as well. It's in two bands on her tunic and then become one strip down the middle of the skirt. Marie, the Grand Duchess sitting on Olga's chair arm, is dressed in a less grown up manner. She was just allowed to put up her hair, a rite of passage at the time. The fourth daughter, Anastasia, was considered too young to attend.

Really the effect of the elaborate clothes, their youth and the stupendous jewels of their orders of St Catherine brooches must of been dazzling. The reflected sun light from the diamond and ruby brooches splash the shadows. Olga's face has pin points of light from Marie's order. The brooches can be seen pinned on each girl's sash, which was bright red with sliver piping on either side.

The words read : "For love of fatherland"

The Order of St Catherine was given only to the consort and daughters of a Tsar

The Grand Duchesses are outside, and I gather are awaiting transportation to the funeral of their father's cousin, Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich . The girls knew him and his family very well. The Grand Duke had lost a son early in WW1 and never recovered from this loss

I'm so close to being finished that I will wait to post the completed painting.
But I wanted to post something of an update. It's been interesting to be engaged in a creative project that takes months. It's a journey and ever evolving...we live in an age of instant potatoes and gratification...but I have learned to enjoy taking my time and the stops along the way. Really the photos of the Romanovs seem to demand this as they have endless secrets and only close study can reveal them.

What is also taking time is the size of the painting. But I will mostly likely continue to create large paintings of the family. It enhances the impact, but also it's easier to get a good likeness if a painting is bigger...you have room to develop the portrait.

Another item I wish to post is a short video I made about the two eldest daughters ,Olga and Tatiana, known in the family as The Big Pair. My painting of them in their WW1 nurses uniforms last year started my Romanov painting adventure.

Thanks girls!