In 1630, four years after the death of his first wife, Rubens, aged 53, married the 16 year-old Helene Fourment. Helen inspired the voluptuous figures of later paintings.
Helene is a lady I am anxious to know -- in a manner of speaking; as I've begun a large painting of Rubens' painting of her for the atelier I belong to in Bordeaux; which is serious and will take a long time. I've looked at her a lot, in order to go on seeing her when I'm away and can close my eyes -- the tilt of her small black hat, the transparency of the material covering her right shoulder, the glint of her jewellery, the colour of her skin and many-hued hair, those floating ostritch plumes, and the grey-green-blue background on ochre and orange underpainting, the relationship between one thing and another.
This was done quickly, without drawing, a matter of taking a deep breath and just plunging in. Good to do that occasionally. Rough work. An exercise. An approach. She might recognize herself -- but only just.
After a painting by the late and not well known 19th century French artist, Ambrose Andre -- typically Impressionist, an innocent subject, joyful and sunlit and full of colour. I found this a challenge, partly because it is a much larger canvas than my usual. It was done for the Atelier Magie des Couleurs, Bordeaux.
Painting and writing -- I've never known which of the two I want to do more. So why not both?
But I've come to realize that the writing tends to be lengthy, and may be too controversial, for a blog. So it won't be so much in evidence as my occasional absences from painting because of it.
I'm not a painting-a-day person. My Muses are fickle maidens and often skip away for weeks.
I think the subject of a painting should be intrinsically interesting -- and never far removed from the human.