Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Finished, But Why?

Family mementos saved over a lifetime, among them paintings, books, letters, photographs, collections of various kinds, trinkets, souvenirs clippings, etc.: presumably they meant something to the person who saved them. Some of them are antiques, some collectible, but for unknown reasons they have become popular to keep. The question could be asked, why? Some people have no need to keep anything, and others can't throw out anything. Why?

A week or so ago I read an article in The Art Biz Blog (August 2, 2010) that presented the question: Why does an artist paint a painting? Sometimes, for me, there is a clear reason, but since I really enjoy the process, many times I am painting a subject simply because I like whatever it is I am painting. I don't go through a huge psychological self-examination to ask myself, why? Is that what most artists do, or do most of them have a story behind each painting? I have no idea, but it would be fun to find out, I think.

This particular painting comes from a photo that interested me. First, it was a really old photo, and I wanted to see if I could paint it to look that way. Second, the subject is a young woman wearing a coat with a fur collar who was standing in front of a school bus that has curtains in the window. (Hello. The school buses I rode on sure didn't have any curtains! Maybe this is because the distance I had to travel to school wasn't long enough for a nap, or could be that school bus riders a long time ago were more civilized than the ones I went to school with.) Last, from other photos I unearthed from a relative's lifetime collection, these fur-collared coats were apparently as much a fashion statement of that time for young women as today's fads are relevant today. Later, after I had painted the painting, I found out the girl turned out to be the "matchmaker" who introduced my mother-in-law to her husband.

And that is the story of why I painted the painting, or as Paul Harvey used to say, "That's the rest of the story." (Oh, I had to Google the saying, because I couldn't remember WHO said that.)

This is the finished painting from one I wrote about in an earlier post, and showed the painting unfinished. I have titled it The Matchmaker.

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