Friday, June 26, 2009

"3 Graces" triptych

Charcoal on Mylar film, side pieces, 20 x 16" center piece, 30×20." From the "Black Butterfly: The Muse" series.

The 3 Graces: Aglaia (radiance) Euphrosyne (joy) Thalia (flowering) It was the poet Hesiod who named the Graces in his Theogony: "Then Eurynome, Ocean's fair daughter, bore to Zeus the three Graces, all fair-cheeked, Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and shapely Thalia; their alluring eyes glance from under their brows, and from their eyelids drips desire that unstrings the limbs."

From reference photos of San Francisco groupies, 1968 - 69, by Rolling Stone magazine photographer Baron Wolman.

3 Graces ~ section 1 ~ Aglaia (radiance): groupie Karen Seltenrich, San Francisco, Nov. 1968. Image was used in a New York Times article “When we tell you what a Groupie is, will you really understand?”

3 Graces ~ section 2 ~ Thalia (flowering): groupie Sally Mann, San Francisco, Nov. 1968. (No relation to the photographer of the same name) Sally married Jefferson Airplane's Spencer Dryden in 1970.

3 Graces ~ section 3 ~ Euphrosyne (joy): groupie “HARLOW”, San Francisco, Nov. 1969.

Here is a quote from Baron about the groupies:

"As concert promoter Bill Graham has given me all access to any of the concerts he produced, I spent quite a bit of time backstage with the bands, their roadies and their women. What fascinated me were the lengths to which the women, the groupies, went to prepare themselves for their backstage appearances. Because I also wanted an excuse to photograph them, I suggested to Jann they might make an interesting story. He agreed and Rolling Stone Magazine No. 27 became known as "the groupie issue." It was widely promoted, read and commented upon, even turned into a book." - Baron Wolman

I saw these photos in an old book picked up at a resale shop. I fell in love with the groupies, and Baron was so gracious to allow me to use them for the drawings. The feminine effect of the references are enhanced with the flowers and butterflies. I decided to draw Sally Mann, the subject of the centerpiece, holding the lilies, as she married soon after the photo was taken. The center piece is considerably larger than the side pieces, on these the flowers and butterflies are from a pattern I saw on scented drawer liner paper. It's all about peace & love & hippie-ness, baby. :)

While the rest of the models I've used in the series are in the arts themselves, I was intrigued with the idea of groupies - and their intrigue with rock & roll artists of the late 1960's. It seems to me they were using their own bodies and persona as an art form to attract their artistic "muses."

I guess you could consider some of the works in my Black Butterfly series "Cover Tunes." I believe the borrowed references are vital to the series to relate the idea of inspiration, and its relation to talent and celebrity. These "tunes" well deserve a stylish, honorable replay. Many thanks to the talented people who have loaned their vision of the muse to aid me in illustrating my ideas.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Daily Study: Chelsea Robin

A father’s day gift for Steve. Oil on board, 8×8”

The English robins are so different from the US variety. We loved this little fellow, and he (she?) sat in the garden of our London, Chelsea garden apartment and visited us daily. :) I finally finished the painting today after being dissatisfied with earlier attempts – I still struggle with oils! grrr… Steve likes it – a nice reminder of our wonderful trip!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Daily Study: Whitman and Psyche

Study for a larger work, charcoal on mylar drafting film, with digital underlay of a Walt Whitman poem. Image size: 9 1/2 x 7". In vintage tabletop swing frame: 12 1/2 x 11" overall. Facsimile butterfly.

Another small work to be included in my "Black Butterfly: The Muse" solo show, which is scheduled to open on September 18th in Chicago. In the series, the butterfly is a symbol for the artist's muse, and all of the subjects I'm drawing are in the arts. I've been reading poetry recently, and am pleased to include Walt Whitman in the series.

"Whitman and the Butterfly
The reference photograph, taken in 1877, was one of Whitman's favorites. He used the butterfly-on-hand as a recurring motif in his books and intended for this photo to be reproduced as the frontispiece in this sample proof of Leaves of Grass from 1891. To foster the image of himself as one with nature, he claimed that insect was real and one of his "good friends." But a band visible around Whitman's finger matches the wire under the butterfly artifact (above). This colorful cardboard prop was tucked into one of the first Whitman notebooks donated to the Library in 1918. The word "Easter" is printed down its spine. Dr. Bucke, one of his literary heirs, said the butterfly was Psyche, the poet's soul."*

*source: “Good Gray Poet: Revising Himself”,