22
Sep

Monotype: Winter Geraniums (when art is inspired by family photos)

wintergeraniums18x2472

Winter Geraniums 18 x 24 monotype with pastel (sold)

Do you Paint from Family Photos?

The reference photo for the art above was snapped in the mid 1970’s, in the rural Connecticut home my father grew up in. My grandparents bought & renovated the house in 1944, when it had already lived a full life as Old Meadowbrook Farm – a Country Inn and gladiola farm in the late 1800’s.

Building a light field monotype

This monotype, in it’s beginnings, with my reference photo on the right. The image was drawn in water-soluble crayon on a sheet or prepared plexiglass, and printmaking inks were painted in layers on the plexi.

Images are Already Familiar

The view of rolling green hills dented with a thumb-print of a pond, and the pool where I learned how to swim are still there after all these years. (I’ve zoomed in and sighed relief while searching on google maps.) The main floor and upstairs were made from creaky, wide plank wood floorboards, with square-head nails. (Try as we might, it was impossible to sneak up on anyone at Nana’s.)

One of the fireplace openings in my grandparent’s dining room, with beer steins, carvings, art and family photos.

A massive stone fireplace in the center of the house featured grouper-mouth openings in five rooms, upstairs and downstairs.  Potted clusters of geraniums were all pulled into the sunporch from the back yard to hide from New England winters. I used to water the plants in the winter while my grandparents stayed in Florida. The smell of geraniums still takes me back to this sunporch.

 

AndrewandMae

My grandparents, circa 1928

Harvest the Good Stuff

Like a lot of people,there are chapters of my childhood that are best forgotten, but Meadowbrook was a respite – rotating with gathered friends & family, circling around hearty, Italian meals, entertained by visiting cousins,dogs, birds and rival siblings. We watched over my grandfather’s shoulder while he whittled figures from wood, or assembled mechanical contraptions from his machine shop at the kitchen table.

nightumbrella

Back yard fire-pit gatherings with beer & cigars at my grandparent’s house in the 1950’s

Memory Aerobics

light field monotype printmaking

After a trip through the press, pulling the monotype from the plate with the ink transferred to the paper.

The mind swells with wonderful memories while painting from family photos; the time to reflect is heart-felt and the recollections are solid enough to lean your whole weight against, even in vaguely recalled sensations. If the photos were taken before your time, there’s enough genetic recognition of facial structure, carriage and environs to provide familiar, pre-studied painting subjects.  Each photo holds clues about your family’s beginnings & their youth. Plus, the leap frog nature of family resemblance is always entertaining.

Lighten Your Grip, Francis

The added benefit in the art-making is this; there is just enough of the creative mind occupied with remembrance & family history to free the poor hand, straining with painting things in or out, mixing color & values, so the pre-occupied mark-making is less stressed & more fluid. Two lovely activities simultaneously: making art and harvesting good memories from old family photos. It makes me appreciate the sweet life I live now – with my artist’s-brain, working-hands and a fully-awake heart.

Do you use family photos in your artwork?

Thanks for visiting today and I’ll see you in the next post!

Belinda

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Art Quote

However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.

~Henry David Thoreau

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19 Responses to Monotype: Winter Geraniums (when art is inspired by family photos)

  1. Maywyn 09/27/2017 at 3:52 am #

    Stunning print, the light and colors of the subjects are so beautiful, I can’t help but smile and feel a sense of family, friends, good conversations.

    • Belinda DelPesco 09/28/2017 at 7:52 am #

      Thank you, Maywyn, I’m glad you can imagine family and conversations in that room. That’s exactly what I thought about while creating it. You must like the same kind of quiet spaces as me. 🙂

  2. Anne 09/26/2017 at 10:26 am #

    Such a bright and welcome wit. Thanks. Not a bad mono print, either 😉

  3. Bonnie Rinier 09/24/2017 at 6:39 pm #

    A wonderful story as usual, and a wonderful Mono type as well! Yes, I myself have also painted a few memories from old photographs. Painting family memories is truly a joyous thing to do.

    • Belinda DelPesco 09/28/2017 at 7:54 am #

      Hi Bonnie, I’m not surprised that you’ve painted from family photos, because pets are in that category too, right? 🙂 And it really is full of joy. Thanks for the compliment.

  4. Dana Richards 09/24/2017 at 8:46 am #

    Your technique resulted in a piece that evokes the history & times of your beloved subject. Beautifully rendered.

    • Belinda DelPesco 09/28/2017 at 7:55 am #

      Thanks for you comment, Dana. Happy art-making with good memories to you too. 🙂

  5. Mary 09/24/2017 at 8:23 am #

    As usual, beautiful and thought provoking…. thanks for the HDT too!

    • Belinda DelPesco 09/28/2017 at 7:58 am #

      Hi Mary, Thanks for the visit, and the encouragement. And we can all thank HDT for taking the time to document his wise words. Here’s to Life; Meeting it and Living it!

  6. Cristiane Marino 09/23/2017 at 12:08 pm #

    Wow Belinda! Gorgeous!

  7. Kathleen Noble 10/17/2015 at 3:36 pm #

    Hope you will consider writing an illustrated memoir – you are an excellent artist and author, and I’m sure you have many more rich recollections and ruminations to share.

    • Belinda DelPesco 10/19/2015 at 3:47 pm #

      Hi Kathleen, Thanks for that generous compliment. I have no plans for a memoir, but I’ll take your encouragement, gladly, and apply it to writing here. I’m emboldened to know my ramblings aren’t altogether featureless & too tiresome to read. 🙂

  8. Marilyn Thuss 10/17/2015 at 6:57 am #

    Love this painting! Love the idea…..I have plenty of old photos…..I shall dig in and expand my art making. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Belinda DelPesco 10/19/2015 at 3:42 pm #

      Hi Marilyn, Oh Good, I’m glad you’re going to give it a try! I hope you post them somewhere so we can all cheer you on!

  9. seamustheone 10/15/2015 at 12:17 pm #

    What a marvellously evocative piece – truly magnificent

    • Belinda DelPesco 10/16/2015 at 4:08 pm #

      Thanks so much for that, seamustheone. 🙂 Happy art making to you.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Watercolor - Nested (and my Patreon page) - Belinda Del Pesco - 10/02/2017

    […] In the last post, I encouraged working from family photos, and digging deep for inspiration in your own memories. When you’re inspired to create based on personal interactions with others, and you use another person’s name, likeness or references that make friends and family recognizable in the work, who owns the result of your documented efforts? Here is an examination of that question by Liana Finck, in a storyboard pictorial for your pondering pleasure. […]

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