As usual, I had an urge to paint something bright, with a powerful-looking woman centre-stage (with a perhaps inscrutable look on her face. I do enjoy a painting where the facial expressions are open to interpretation).
Then I watched Certified Copy (Copie Conforme) on Netflix, starring the beautiful Juliette Binoche and British opera singer William Shimell – I recommend the film, by the way! It’s set in Tuscany and is a very intriguing meditation on relationships – and the poster really struck me. I loved the colour and the position of Binoche on the front, and somehow related to her slightly ambiguous expression.
The “putting on earrings” action is also meaningful for me, as when I was doing my final exams at university, a group of friends and I had a saying: “Always wear fabulous earrings to an exam. That way, even if it all goes wrong, at least you’re still wearing fabulous earrings.” It’s always stuck with me, and I still use that philosophy today – hence why I’ve named the painting “To Earrings, With Hope”…
It’s a powerful mix of positive yet slightly fatalistic thinking, which can give me strength when I feel anything but. ALSO: I love painting flowers (and I added in a butterfly in there too, to play with colours and blending, for the heck of it). Once I’d decided I would use the film poster as inspiration, the flower-mirror setting just jumped into my mind.
Some of this is more successful than the rest – I’m really happy with the way the sunflowers have turned out, and I like the overall effect of the cartoonish style. The neck shading is all wrong, however, and no matter what I did I seemed to make it worse (argh!). However, I’m also just about happy with the mirror effect, and I like the silver pen finish on the earring (silver pen obsession alert!)…
There’s also, as ever, an element of self-portraiture going on here. Despite what you might see as narcissistic overtones (who, me?!) it’s really not 100% intentional – I don’t try to make the women in my painting look like me, as such, but I do always add in elements of things I like, which usually happen to be things that I have too – a nose piercing, for example, or an earring/ring I myself own.
She’s also wearing bright pink lipstick, which, as anyone who’s ever tried Mac in Candy Yum Yum matte knows to be a good idea, whatever the circumstance :P.
I’m never 100% happy with my paintings, ever, but overall, this does just about give the bright and colourful, yet contemplative atmosphere I was going for, and it’s also a bit of a break-away from my usual Mucha style, which was interesting, if a little challenging.
I think maybe I’ll frame it in red or pink, or perhaps more silver, to really make it pop? One thing’s for sure – I bloody love sunflowers.