"Corin", 10" x 8", (small work), graphite portrait in progress
Here is a study I've got going for a portrait effort. I've got errands to run today, so I'll get back to this later with a further post, but here is my friend Corin, in her room with some of her favorite dolls and treasures.
Additional note: took my signature off this original post-in-progress in case it was unclear, but it's a drawing still in progress, an informal scene, which will be including her favorite stuffed dog in front of her on a striped bedspread.
"Heaven on Earth Rose," in progress, shown at actual size
Another progress update after two more sessions on the rose. The hardest areas to blend in egg tempera are open areas, or areas with a shadow that has to fade into a light area. In this painting that is happening in several of the outer petals, and I am still working on evening out that blend.
Flowers are a great challenge because they are so subtle in the variations of tones and colors petal to petal. Egg tempera is a perfect medium for subtle variations because of what can be accomplished with transparent glazing and translucent scumbling.
Heaven on Earth Rose (in progress), 2 1/2" x 2 7/8", egg tempera on Kelmscott vellum
Here's an update on my progress with my second in a series of rose miniatures. As mentioned earlier, this kind of miniature which zeros in on a small subject is one that some refer to as 'atypical' because it has all the qualities of a miniature, except 1/6th scale. More to come on it, plus a start on a new miniature.
The previous step in "Heaven on Earth Rose" as it posted earlier this Fall, (a Floribunda species called, "Heaven on Earth")
"Sweet Pea Blossom," 3" x 2", egg tempera on vellum, NFS
"When Lauren Smiles," 2 7/8" x 3 3/4", egg tempera on gessoed panel, NFS
Above are two miniature portraits I created of my brother's daughter, Lauren, which were on exhibit in the first Miniature Art Society of Florida annual miniature show that I participated back in (2003). More recently you may remember that I drew a pencil portrait of Lauren on her birthday inan earlier postin Aug. '09.
As her Aunt, I'm very proud of her for yesterday scoring the winning goal for her women's college soccer team against the #1 team, enabling her team to advance to the Southern Conference championship game against Charleston tomorrow! It was an absolute thrill also today for me to see her pictured on theSouthern Conference homepage.I'll be routing for you and your team tomorrow, Lauren!
"Eric," 8 1/2" x 8", small work, final version of the pencil portrait of my nephew Eric
Although my initial drawing made a nice study of Eric himself, I wanted to spend some time on the clothing, but more specifically on the background of this drawing so it is clear to the viewer that Eric is on the subway. The reason is that Eric has loved trains and all things 'train' since the age of 3. He knows the NYC commuter and subway lines inside out (better than Aunt Mona who is a New Yorker of many years), as well as many other train networks around the world as a result of his enjoyment of trains. So of course he knew right away that this was drawn from a photo of him on his last birthday, while riding the "E" train!
"Eric", 8 1/2" x 8", pencil portrait of my nephew for his October birthday (click on the drawing to see it larger)
I'll replace this with another scan after I put some final touches on the clothing in this, but I'm going to visit Eric's family in a few hours, and he has been waiting so patiently for his birthday drawing! Happy Birthday, Eric!
"The Bluebird of Happiness #2", 1"x 1", egg tempera on vellum
"Ona and Corin with Bluebird", 11" x 7", graphite portrait drawing
Last week I was invited to tea with my friends Martiina, and her daughters, Ona and Corin, who also used to be my neighbors. They have moved to another spot in the area, so on this occasion we had some great fun catching up, eating cake and cookies with hot chocolate and tea, practicing our yoga and dance moves, and playing with pet gerbils!
Some of you who follow my blog will recall how I made a second miniature painting of my lucky glass bluebird, "The Bluebird of Happiness (#2)" for them to have in their new home. It's an honor that it is posted in a special spot right in between the girls' rooms, and since they posed for a few pictures how could I resist making a drawing of them?!
Last month friend, fellow miniaturist, and Royal Miniature Society member, Justine Woodward contacted me to let me know she would be visiting her daughter in New York City in October, and we thought it would be great to try arranging an appointment similar to one we had arranged five years earlier to view miniatures in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It takes some advance planning to arrange such a visit, but it is possible for serious artists, especially those interested in viewing for research purposes or for specific professional inspiration to make an appointment to view works of art in the Museum's permanent collection which are not currently on display.
Collection databases searches are available online at metmuseum.org
(Metropolitan Museum of Art) so I did a search for European miniature paintings, and it took about five hours of research for me to narrow down a list of suggestions. As it turned out, Ms. Mattia of the European Art Dept. brought the suggested portraits out in archived boxes, enabling us to see much more. Although a few including several by Hans Holbein the Younger were in conservation and not available to view, we did see one by Holbein, several by Nicholas Hilliard, as well as the portraits of Jean Baptiste Isabey, Etienne Bouchard, and other French, English, and German miniaturists spanning several centuries.
Justine views one of the archival boxes that we saw. For several hours Ms. Mattia brought out an absolutely thrilling array of miniatures for us to view, providing us with wonderful inspiration from master miniaturists.
When we arrived, Ms. Mattia greeted us and brought out the first box of miniatures, a white cotton glove to carefully check tag numbers, a strong magnifying glass, and a copy of the museum's definitive book on this collection: "European Miniatures in the Metropolitan Museum of Art" by Graham Reynolds, which provides some interesting background infomation on each miniature.
A peek inside one of about nine archival boxes that we saw. This particular box featured some of the miniature works of Jean Baptiste Isabey. The variations in his approach within this box helped us to see how Isabey's style changed over a thirty year span of time.
Taking a closer look at "Madame Jean Baptiste Isabey" (See below a black and white copy from the Met online of this miniature portrait which Isabey painted of his first wife.)
"Madame Jean Baptiste Isabey (Jeanne Laurice de Salienne, died 1829)", 3 3/8" diameter, on ivory, was painted by Jean Baptiste Isabey between 1796 and 1800. She is pictured sewing with a small basket, spools of white thread, and a tiny, tiny pair of sewing scissors. Stylistic differences are revealed between this miniature and the one below, "Mrs. Rufus Prime", which Isabey painted about thirty years later.
"Mrs. Rufus Prime (Augusta Templar Palmer), 5 3/8" x 4", on card, an American bride portrayed by Jean Baptiste Isabey in 1828. I can't adequately convey enough detail with my photograph of this miniature to duplicate the experience of seeing it first-hand, but because this was a larger miniature, it was great to study it's details and brush strokes. It's pastel tones and colors, the translucent fabric and ribbons, were so finely and delicately handled in this later work by Isabey that I found it to be a wonderful source of inspiration.
One box we saw held two bracelets which consisted of linked ovals, each of which held a miniature portrait of a family member, with the mother at one end, each child in the middle and the father on the other end. We imagined and discussed ways that one could create a modern miniature portrait bracelet. Some of the miniatures held sentimental inscriptions on their backs or frame covers, and jeweled trim, or scrimshaw on the back of the ivory. There were also about half a dozen eye portraits, in rings or brooch pins, which I very much enjoyed seeing.
Ms. Mattia kindly copied an interesting article for us to take home which I look forward to reading called "Secret Arts: Elizabethan Miniatures and Sonnets" by Patricia Fumerton. I'm also purchasing the above mentioned museum's book on this wonderful collection as a memento of my visit and to read more about the fine portraits we saw.
Giant frames loomed on floor to ceiling vertical racks at one end of the inner offices of the European Art department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, next to where Justine Woodward and I sat behind the scenes to view selections of the European Miniature art collection
Yesterday I had a thrilling experience in tandem with friend and British miniaturist, Justine Woodward of the Royal Miniature Society, when, thanks to the gracious and kind help of Ms. Mattia of the European Art Dept., we went for a private appointment to view miniature masterpieces at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC! I am still absolutely soaring inside from all the inspiration we were so fortunate to absorb from miniature master portrait artists such as Holbein, Hilliard, Isabey, and many more. Stay tuned for photos and a full report of our visit in my next post....
I promised to post you about which other four miniatures I've sent off to MASF, Miniature Art Society of Florida, for their annual show, January 17 - February 7, 2010. Since I've recently made a few improvements here and there on my website, I thought you might enjoy viewing these four paintings directly on my website in my miniature gallery, so here are the titles and the link to see them:
"Carribean Ship Flag," "Madonna in the Leaves," "The Bluebird of Happiness," and "Memory Rose," can be found at monadianeconner.com in the Miniature Gallery.
Just a few notes of clarification---Only once in a while do I have a later thought about an improved title for a painting, and when I do, I allow myself to re-name the painting. I've done this on two of my entries. Also, on my website the miniature portraits appear in both the Miniature Gallery and the Portrait Gallery.
The five entries I have submitted to the Miniature Art Society of Florida 35th annual miniature show at Leepa Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs (January 17 - February 7) include "The Piano Recital---It's Mary's Turn,"shown above in it's final form. This portrait of Mary has sold, pre-show, to her parents, but they are allowing it to go into show competition this year, prior to receiving it, and I am grateful for their support.
More on the rest of my entries for the Florida show later this week.
Post Script: Here is the portrait of Mary almost completed. While it's Mary herself who inspires its details, and I hope I am doing justice to the person who inspired it, a question recurs from time to time about how 'it looks finished already' when its still in progress, and I know it's sincere, so just once I want to take a moment to go over a few specific points from my own perspective about competitive miniature painting.
It's throughout the year that I am developing my miniatures for competition purposes, so if at times it seems I get into minute details, it's often a conscious effort on my part if I feel I may be preparing a painting for competition---something which usually takes longer than non-competitive miniature making. Added into the mix, my medium of egg tempera is also more time-consuming than other mediums because it consists of many superimposed thin layers of paint, but I hope it feels worth the extra time to others because of its effects, and because it is my preferred medium for painting. At times I can unconsciously get into a higher level of detail even when I am doing a simpler miniature study, and some of you have purchased good bargains from my blog in this way.
Because my particular style lends itself toward detail, to the extent it feels important, I go as far as I can go with detail to be on target for a competitive entry. But at miniature competitions I have seen that other styles are also respected, and what I have witnessed over the past six years as a participant in competition is that for those with a different style, such as a pastel artist or an impressionistic painter, it is simply a matter of preserving that specific style and scaling it down more finely for its miniature size and scale. Making miniatures is about an effort to fit into a small area and scale the same level of painting that we can paint larger.
When it comes to minute detail at miniature scale, ultimately it becomes important to see a miniature painting in person in order to truly appreciate it. I can come close, but I can't duplicate it entirely online either if it's this tiny, so I hope if you have never seen a miniature show in person, you may have an opportunity in the future to do so.
Next post I'll show you the final version of the portrait of Mary.
"The Piano Recital, Mary's Turn," (in progress), 5 1/2" x 4 1/4", egg tempera miniature on gessoed panel
Here's another update on my progress, and with her dress now finished, I'll do one last post of the completed painting in a few more days. I want to work on her hands and hair a little more and refine certain details and values in the painting.
"The Piano Recital, Mary's Turn," (in progress) 5 1/2" x 4 1/4", egg tempera on gessoed panel
Here is another update on my progress on the portrait of Mary. I've started working on the piano keys, and next, will zero in more on the beautiful dress she is wearing, which has a delicate pink floral pattern.
"Niche in Aix-en-Provence," 1 7/8" x 1 5/16", egg tempera on Kelmscott vellum
(framed version, shown at it's actual size)
Here is one of three spiritually-toned entries I submitted earlier this week to the annual miniature show competition of the Miniature Painters, Sculptors, and Gravers Society of Washington D.C. This little French Madonna and Child ornaments the corner of a building in the beautiful town of Aix en Provence. My other two entries, which were shown recently also at the Miniature Art Society of Florida show are"Madonna and Child of Saint-Remy,"and "Amma's Eyes".
"The Piano Recital, Mary's Turn" (in progress), (click on the image to see it at it's actual size) 5 1/2" x 4 1/4", egg tempera on gessoed panel
I'm busily preparing for two miniature shows, so it's just occasional updates for right now. Here's an update on my progress with the portrait of Mary at the piano recital. I've really been enjoying working on this one!
"Casey," 7 1/2" x 8 1/4" (small work) graphite drawing
(click the image to see it larger)
Belated Happy Birthday Casey (September 9)! My youngest nephew, Casey, is a few years more mature than this drawing reflects, but I drew my inspiration from one of my favorite pictures of him from 2007 because I feel it just captured him so well.
During the past week I was thrilled to attend the lovely wedding of good friends, Susan and Peter. On this great occasion I met their wonderful families and friends, and it was also an honor for me to be asked to serve as one of their witnesses at the wedding. After a warm, elegant ceremony in a private room at Convivium restaurant here in Brooklyn, and champagne toasts all around, I enjoyed ballet-dancing with Peter's granddaughter, Madeline, sharing a delightfully delicious meal, and a special wedding cake baked by the restaurant's co-owner, Michelle Pulixi.
Susan and Peter at their wedding
Madeline and I ballet-dancing after the wedding at Convivium
Susan gave me some of these gorgeous pink roses to take home from the wedding, and once I complete my work for the upcoming miniature shows, I hope to paint at least one 'wedding rose' miniature! Susan and Peter, Mazel tov!
"Heaven on Earth Rose," (in progress), 2 3/16" x 2 5/8", egg tempera on Kelmscott vellum
Shell Frame for "Heaven on Earth Rose"
the sketch for my next miniature, "The Piano Recital: It's Mary's Turn"
Sometimes when the object being painted is so beautiful, it's really nice to be able to zero in on it more, and the rose I have started painting is hard to resist for a close-up view. When this is done in miniature painting, it can wind up being miniature in the size of the painting itself, and miniature in its level of detail, but not at 1/6th of life scale, and this is sometimes called an 'atypical' miniature. "Heaven on Earth Rose" is an example of this.
"Heaven on Earth" is the species name of this variety of Floribunda rose, which I photographed from the first rose bush I planted in my father's memory. I've planned for it to be framed with this pink shell frame, and when it's finished, I will post it for sale exclusively on this blog, but since two more major miniature shows are fast approaching it will be completed in my spare time as I go forth.
Next I'll be starting the miniature painting of "The Piano Recital: It's Mary's Turn."
This post also marks my one year anniversary with The Ruby Slippers blog, since my first post began Sept. 4th, 2008.
"St. Joseph and Christ in Aix en Provence," 1 15/16" x 1 5/6", egg tempera on Kelmscott vellum, (SOLD)
"Pink Lotus," 2 3/8" x 2 7/8", egg tempera and gold paint
Here are two of my five framed miniatures for "It's a Small World," a minature competition and show at Elder Street Gallery in Houston, Texas. Although I have previously shown "Pink Lotus" on this blog and elsewhere in a pink shelled frame, since framing is part of the judging and the rule of 'no craft' may exclude that frame, I reframed "Pink Lotus" in a gold frame for this miniature competition, and will be using my pink shell frame for another upcoming rose miniature I've started.
I decided to frame "St. Joseph and Christ in Aix en Provence" with a triple matt, which takes lots of patience and several tries to cut perfectly, but I think it was worth doing. (It's middle matt is a cream color museum matt, though it looks more white online.) My other three entries for the Houston, Texas show include, "The Ruby Slippers," and two eye portraits which you can see by visiting Eye Portraits in Miniature: "Kimberly's Eye," and "Kimberly's Eye #2". All of these miniatures are also available for sale online through Elder Street Gallery. "It's a Small World" opens at the gallery in Houston, Texas Sept. 19 from 5 - 10PM, and runs through Oct. 4.
"Memory Rose," 1 1/4" diameter, egg tempera on Kelmscott vellum in gold easel frame
I've test-fitted this into it's frame before signing it, but here is the finished art for "Memory Rose." Once the miniature is signed, I'll also add it to my website.
*Just want to add, thanks so much, everyone, for your lovely comments about the rose mini. I've decided it goes up for direct sale. Since I enjoyed painting it so much I've started another rose, from the other rose bush I planted in memory of Dad, and I hope to post on it soon too.