Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Behind Blue Eyes

I'm loving these watercolor pencils. I found this 1920s photo of Ziegfeld Follies girl Marion Benda a while back, and she caught my eye again as I was looking through my collection of old photos. Originally I had thought she'd make a nice collage with knitted lace, but looking at her again, I realized a simpler drawing would let her haunting eyes shine as the center of her portrait.

The story behind those beautiful eyes is a troubled one, and difficult to piece together. The limited mentions of her are confusing in their facts, but one newspaper article indicates that she buried her first husband after a car accident, and afterwards never seemed to find peace for herself. She was Rudolph Valentino's date just before he unexpectedly died and claimed to have also secretly married him. She turned down speaking roles on stage, saying she couldn't act. Various articles mention attempts at suicide by over-dosing on sleeping pills, until she was finally successful in 1951.

This portrait uses watercolor pencils, felt pen, and acrylic on paper, and is done in shades of purple and blue with the background yellowed with coffee. I found one reference to her eyes actually being brown, but considering her hair probably wasn't purple either I'm ok taking some artistic license here! Measures 8.5" x 11".

A few of the original newspaper articles are available online. This one from the Milwaukee Journal covers her death. Another article from the same paper dated 1927 spins a bit of a story surrounding her financial troubles which may or may not contain accurate glimpses into her character.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Netherlands vs. USA

Nieuwe Kerk, Delft
No expat blog is complete without a comparison of differences between the old home and the new. Therefore, I've put together my list of observations about life in the Netherlands that is different from what I am used to in the United States.

Culture and Society
  • The Dutch language pronounces every letter in a word. 
  • Love of symmetry - many windows display pairs of vases, candles, etc.
  • There are few public holidays, but (depending on your job) it is not uncommon to take a month vacation.
  • Healthcare is reasonably priced.
  • Recycling is thorough and fairly convenient.
  • On birthdays, instead of wishing the birthday boy/girl a happy birthday, people congratulate their family (for putting up with them for another year???)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Doodle Postcards

Last week the painters started working on the outside of the apartment. First step: wake everyone up with a screeching sander, which upon investigation turns out to be operated by a strange man unexpectedly standing at your 4th story window. Working in my studio suddenly had less appeal, so I looked for a project that could easily be taken elsewhere. These postcards are what happened.

I had a pad of blank postcards laying around for awhile, and I weeded through our collection of dried out ballpoint pens. I started with a simple concept for each card and built up the design around that, adding new ideas as the pictures developed. So basically, a doodle.

I had a lot of fun experimenting with interesting designs. Some I like better than others, and this "Spikes and Bubbles" card is my favourite. I should say something insightful about the juxtaposition of circles and lines, but the simple truth is the idea of popping bubbles amuses me far more than it should.

All of these are currently available through Etsy.