Tatiana and Olga 2010

Tatiana and Olga  2010

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The time it takes is the time it takes

Every time I think I'm close  to finishing my  current Romanov painting of Nicholas and his son , Alexis ,along the Dnieper River in 1916, the painting goes  to another level and the time table shatters too...when a part of the painting  zooms up in quality one has to bring everything else up to that level as well, in fact  that's part of the fun

This painting has  followed the usual pattern so far...it   bolts out of the box and then I get mired on one thing. In this painting it was Alexi's head and face...the photo is fuzzy and  trying to figure things out was difficult...it was months of painting and painting.

Nicholas  was steadily coming in...thankfully

Currently  both faces are good...what is my concern right now is Nicky's uniform. That can take some time, because everything must make sense and fit

I have had help from my  friend Nicola from Russia. He has helped me in the question of the uniform's colour.  I began speaking to him about this painting  in Sept 2011...you have to take the long view, well I do anyway. He appreciates my keen wish to get it as right as I can

These paintings are quests... looking back on some I wondered how I dared  to  even start...but you just  start painting  and keep painting for shore

There are times when I think , well the ride is over...but you keep painting  and you get there

That's been my experience.

Quests aren't about expectations. In fact I'd say it is when my expectations are once again  proved unworkable and  I  give them up, that  the painting  goes forward.

It's a process of giving up one's ideas of how things should go while still painting...and it happens many times over during a painting .

So lord know when it will be finished. But I promise when it's done, no one will be disappointed..and that's another reason these paintings take so long...the emotions they bring up as one gets nearer the end...The video is ready to go.I'm looking forward to showing off this one!

As a Romanov fan, being able to make paintings like this, well I wish I could bring people along the trip truly. It can be hard, but it's always so rewarding. Quest is not too big a word. You have to dig deep to get any where..at least that's how I paint.

                                    Brontë portraits

Of course while I'm painting Nicholas and , Alexis , I'm thinking ahead of my  next paintings. There  will be a short break from Romaovs and I'll be painting Brontë portraits!

Charlotte Brontë                                  Arthur Bell Nicholls

I will do a portrait pair of Charlotte Brontë and her husband, Arthur Bell Nicholls .
 Theirs was a powerful and unexpected love story that is often over looked because their happiness was so short lived. Charlotte tragically died within a year of their marriage

I will  also be doing a portrait of Charlotte's  father, Patrick Brontë, as well  for this was a love triangle of sorts and who can resist this photo to paint?


Rev. Patrick Brontë
 ( Papa)

But speaking of challenges , this will mark the first time I'm trying to make a portrait based mostly on other art work. All  we have of Charlotte in the way of photo is a small, profile...and I wonder if that was taken without her knowledge! lol She seems to be watching something else.

I'm working from four images. I show  them here from earliest to last

Charlotte by her brother, Branwell

I will be using the famous  portrait of the sisters painted by their brother, Branwell...which I think is a quite good beginning . He should have kept going. But it seems staying power was not Branwell's strong suit. But I find everything in  the one photo of Charlotte that we have is in this painting by her brother. Her nose looks different his painting. That is because other artists had her turn her head
to the side imo

Charlotte by J. H. Thompson,    Branwell's friend

The 1850 Richmond portrait
The portrait of Charlotte by  the society painter, George Richmond  was done at the behest of Charlotte's publisher, George Smith.  It was a gift to her father. Mr. Smith was clever. It would be hard for Charlotte to refuse such a gift for Papa.

Otherwise I can see her declining. Charlotte did not care for her looks. And while she may not have been the era's ideal, she was by no means as  ill favored as she thought. 

Charlotte  received four marriage proposals and certainly her successful suitor,  Mr.Nicholls, thought her alluring enough to stay her father's curate  in order to win her when he could have had his own living else where. It seems this tiny woman caught Arthur's heart shortly after he arrived in Haworth.

Only known photo of Charlotte Brontë

One thing I have notice  is how Charlotte's hair has the same sheen in each picture...this tells me it was a of a fine nature. Also she seem to have a redish cheeks because that is shown everywhere as well.

One can gain insight by looking at her father's photo because it was said she took after him.

All the Brontë  children seem to have a predominate bottom lip and it's in all the pictures. Richmond cleverly dealt with Charlotte's nose by not putting in one side . I'm basically going to follow his lead and paint his portrait, but in my  way ...which means using his  original , not the many variations  that have been  made of it since

Rev. Arthur Bell Nicholls

For Arthur I'm using his most handsome photo.  However , one of  Arthur Bell Nicholls eye lids drooped a bit, and that got more pronounced with age. It makes me wonder if this photo is flipped, because that eye is on the other side in his other photos...but no matter, this how people expect to see this photo and I like how it  makes it seem  they are looking each other's way. I also like that by painting a pair, their images will match more closely than before 

 I think Arthur is a good looking fellow. In his  2 honeymoon photos, he looks a bit put out and I wonder if that is to due Charlotte refusing to join in the photographs! lol

Charlotte had no idea her father's  statue  like curate was capable of her high  level of emotion and passion until 7 years after Arthur  first arrived at Haworth and  in a overwrought state , he  asked for her hand in marriage 

The  manner of his proposal  was the shocking part of the event for Charlotte. That penniless Arthur Bell Nicholls had the temerity to ask at all, shocked her father, Patrick.
Her father was furious and Charlotte was rather dazed and confused. It took another 18 months of  Arthur's persistence  and her own loneliness to convince her to accept him.

Once she did, much to Charlotte's own surprise, a  happiness she had never known  steadily  blossomed. Intellectually Arthur was not her match, but how many were? These two  found common ground in a simular dry sense of humor, a love of constancy , a great love of nature  and finally in love itself . 

Charlotte  grew to love Arthur deeply. She refers to him as "my dear boy" and she was expecting their child at the time of her death.  All this  makes Charlotte's untimely passing all the more sad.

And though Patrick  opposed the marriage at first , Charlotte's  father's  letters after her death, touchingly refer to the  marriage's happiness  and the promise it held for all. Patrick's  tender, dignified expressions of grief in the face of  the total loss of his six children are  heartrending to say the least.


                                        Brontë Novel

The other interesting event that has come about since I last posted  is I find I have so much to say about this time in Charlotte's life that I'm writing a novel about the Brontës!

 It occurred much like the paintings....like spontaneous combustion, it just happened!   I'm having alot of fun

And wow,  there  are ALOT of novels about the Brontës! The  earliest I have found were published in the 1930's . They have appeared ever since with  great regularity and show no signs of stopping.  And no wonder, often  the history  of the Brontë family is as interesting as the Brontë novels themselves! It's an amazing  story

But does the world need  another novel about the Brontës?

That's not the question an artist asks themselves.

The artist asks  :  What do I need to do?

It seems I need to write  this novel . It also seems to be writing itself!

Everyone who has read some say thumbs up, which is encouraging ...what's funny is I find looking at modern novels  also very encouraging...after reading awhile I'll say," oh  I can do that!"  Let's see if I say that as it goes along. LOL I have a feeling, much like with the paintings,  one day I will be amazed I dared to start it. 

 But once started, why stop? Simply keep at it

The doing of a creative project  is as important as the result, in some ways perhaps more. It's at 150-180 pages at the moment with lots more ahead.

It will have the exact  known history or at least there will be a  good case for whatever  I depict. I'm really interested in working  with the known facts and the more than likely. That doesn't mean there won't be surprises.  

Much like the Romanov paintings, you almost have to be a fan already to see what I'm doing.  I'm using Charlotte's letters, which can be enjoyed on the surface of course , I love her way with words. But they always reward a careful study as well . There is  also 150 years of excellent Brontë scholarship to lean on.

But  after 40 +  years of reading about them  I know a great deal myself  and that helps to keep the fingers flying  as  I write . It's fun to have to work within  the known history and still find much to say that imo has not be said before.

I can promise  no  vampires or zombies will appear.

If that's a spoiler, so be it lol

Charlotte 's father, Patrick and Charlotte's  widower, Arthur  drew close  after Charlotte's tragic passing . In his will, Patrick called Arthur, " my beloved son". Who could understand each other's grief as well as they?  

Arthur was devastated when his father in law passed six years after Charlotte in 1861...perhaps that is when the full weight of her death was felt by Arthur. When  there was no longer anything  left to do for his beloved wife.

Arthur lived another 50 years after Charlotte's death. He married again,  he was surrounded by fond friends and an adoring family of nieces and nephews in his Irish home . 

But  in all those years,Charlotte  never left  his heart or mind. In old age, Arthur  would wonder aloud how it will be  upon his own death, when he and Charlotte  would meet again , a meeting he never doubted .

Arthur's  last words were

" Charlotte... Charlotte"

perhaps a calling and  then a greeting. 

They both  had waited along time