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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Frustration or portrait of a lady

Yes gentle reader, I am frustrated. 
I cannot, for love nor money, find my camera download cable.  It's been missing for a month or more.  I remember thinking, I'll just put that in XYZ so I can find it again.  AARRRGGGH!  
I have ransacked the place but cannot remember where XYZ was!  I have now ordered a new cable but it will only be delivered in a couple of weeks. sigh.
And you know as well as I do that the day after it arrives I will find my original download cable. It's a given.
But in the meantime I have no way of uploading any of my photos to this blog which is why I am FRUSTRATED!
And I have taken some nifty pics lately that I wanted to share with you but they will have to wait.
My latest project - yes another one - involves painting.
Ages ago I bought an old oval wooden picture frame at a flea market because it was lovely and even better it was $6. When I recently decided to dig it out, I couldn't find it either because I'd put it somewhere safe.  Further ransacking found it and I decided since it was oval it needed to hold a portrait. 
I have done many pencil, charcoal and conte crayon portraits over the years and any of those media would look nice in this frame but something inside me said it had to be a painted portrait.  An 18th century painted portrait to be exact. Yep, in spite of not having even attempted to paint the human face since the mid 70s, a painted portrait it had to be.
So I dragged out the paints and brushes and then thought about the canvas.  And after searching online I realised there were no canvases of the right dimensions for my frame.  And yes it had to be a canvas.  So I went in search of a canvas board - I have canvases of all types and sizes but finding one I could cut into the requisite sized oval proved... yep you guessed it, FRUSTRATING. Ok to cut a long story short, I did find one eventually, just like I eventually found an exacto knife (albeit not the sharpest) and I eventually cut the oval shape out of the canvas board.  Yes I also cut myself.  So you'll have realised by now that I was really committed to the whole idea of a painted portrait. I mean any sensible soul would have given up when they couldn't find the darn frame in the beginning.  Give up?  Never!
Then came the composition.  I wanted a lady with big hair facing to the left of the frame. So I trawled the web for images that might inspire me. Most of them seemed to be looking the other way, naturally!
Eventually I found settled on one. Aha the moment had arrived for me to pick up a brush and load it with paint.  Holy dooley! Which is when I realised I couldn't remember where to start. hahahahahha
But I started anyway.  With predictable results.  Bloody hell!  I had a blue background with some grey blocked in for the hair and this orthotic pink shape which was meant to be a face! hahahahha  I couldn't stop laughing. After a severe talking to, I cleaned the brushes and resolved to get out my painting books and just look at them for a while.  And you guessed it, I couldn't find my books.  
Thankyou God for YouTube.  I looked up the brand of paints I use and lo and behold they had a portrait tutorial - hallelujah!  And watching it I remembered so many things. Blocking in shapes, proportions, transitions, layering, glazes. Doing it however is another matter.
So a few days later, I sat down again and while the tonality is a bit all over the shop, I have painted a recognisably human face. I'm nowhere near finished but she's coming along.  
And when I get the damned camera cable I'll be able to show you the results! In the meantime enjoy these lovely portraits from that era.

Monday, December 19, 2011

DIY fly fringing

If you've marvelled at fly fringing on the elaborate clothing of the 1750s to 1770s and would like to add some to your own costumes check out Quaintrellelife for a tutorial.
Fly fringing has that delicate, fragile, spring flower look and the fringing on these sleeves must have been incredibly labour intensive. The effect however is delightful.
Viv has studied photographs and worked out how to produce the desired effect. There are also some links you can follow up if you don't already have many of the books mentioned. 
Will I give it a go?  Probably not as I have far too many UFOs (unfinished objects) including the dress, the hat, the stomacher and the walking stick.  I need to find a shop that sells time!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Baroque dance

Yes I have been flitting from topic to topic lately.  I like lots of variety and so I constantly trawl the web looking for interesting18th century and other historical information.
For some time I've been watching YouTube videos of Baroque Dance, which looks rather delightful. 
What is Baroque Dance you ask? 
Well from what I've gathered, basically it's the theatrical and social dances of the European upper classes from mid 17th century to mid 18th century.  Stylistically it's French (think Louis IVX performing his ballets etc) and the theatrical strand morphed over time into our ballet. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong.
Some of the performers are obviously professionals - their movements are effortless and I'd imagine like ballet it would take many years of practice - especially in those dresses.  Others are less professional and some movements are frankly amusing to my 21st century eyes. 
So if you like baroque music and feel like escaping into another world for a little while trip off to YouTube and type in 'baroque dance' to watch some of the videos. 
I also want to know where they get their shoes!

Friday, December 16, 2011

City of Vice

I'm always on the look out for good 18th century movies and TV series and recently I discovered a couple I had somehow missed.
I've now exhausted Garrow's Law (an excellent tale based on a pioneering 18th century barrister) and moved on to City of Vice - the story of Henry Fielding, author, magistrate and founder of London's first police force - the Bow Street Runners. 
Along with his blind half brother and fellow magistrate John Fielding, Henry tells the story of vice and violence that is the gin soaked world depicted in Hogarth's Rake's and Harlot's Progress.
But Hogarth's images are tame by comparison.  
It's a pretty gritty dramatisation of the brothels, child prostitution, molly houses, treatment meted out to homosexuals, arranged marriages and violent gangs that ruled the streets and the establishment of the Bow Street Runners to bring some kind of order to this anarchy. 
It's absolutely fascinating. Even when I have to look away.
It also reminds me that I am very fortunate to live now. I am thankful for the police and our system of law enforcement. We all complain at times but it's come a remarkably long way from its humble beginnings.
If you haven't come across City of Vice and Garrow's Law - they are both well worth watching.