September 16, 2010

New Painting - Marie Antionette

Sometimes when paintings are finished I will enjoy them for a while and then it's fun to take them down and completely rework them.  I'll obliterate the original either by painting over the entire canvas with white or black to give myself a clean slate, or by creating many layers of images and markings on the canvas until it finally feels like an entirely new piece.  

Often the entire original painting is obscured with marks, but with this particular painting you can see quite a bit of the original still life showing through.  I love doing this because it keeps with the style of urban graffiti I saw all the time when I used to live in New York.  Taggers would paint something on the side of a building over a movie poster or something similar and then later someone else would come along and paint over that until there were layers upon layers of brilliant artistic expression.

Here's my original painting in 2007.
To revamp this pretty painting I decided to keep the flowers, but I wanted to add some graffiti life to it.  I started by drawing some more floral shapes on top and dripping paint onto the canvas from the side.  I often do this in my graffiti paintings because I like the feeling of defying gravity when you see the paint dripping onto the canvas from the side.
I wanted to add a figure and the pale aqua background made me think of Marie Antionette.  I've had a bit of an obsession with her since my parents took me to Versailles for my 13th birthday.  I don't know why they thought I needed to see the bedroom of a young beheaded queen when I was just becoming a young woman myself, but that's where we went and it did have a tremendous impact on me.  I even stole a piece of the plaster from her bedroom which was under renovation at the time.  I remember holding it so often that it finally crumbled to nothing.
I stencilled stars onto the canvas because that represents the similarity between royalty in Marie's time and the way that Hollywood stars are treated today.  With adulation, until we get tired or bored and then they are discarded and thrown out with yesterday's tabloids.
Of course I had to add a bit of her famous phrase, "Let them eat cake".  This was also a wink at the Hollywood starlet fascination with beauty and living carb-free.  Just my way of saying you should enjoy life and eat some cake already!!!

The finished painting still has the roses in the background, but the focus of the artwork is now Marie's face.  And the painting is a riot of colors and elaborate delicious decoration.  Just like her fanciful court.  Too much is never too much.
"Eat Cake"
18x24 inches
acrylic on canvas

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