A moth-eaten old red uniform. Part of a collection of old Hollywood movie costumes I bought on Ebay years ago.
Burnished ebony wood and tarnished silver keyed clarinet. Also Ebay….
as is ….the beekeepers hat, now brittle with age, it has holes torn in the front screening large enough for a hummingbird to fly through.
The ancient oak tree that clings to the creek bank next to my old treetop studio…jagged remnant of the arm that broke off in a storm and crashed through the studio ceiling and pierced the center of my easel chair…missing the artist by eight and a half minutes.
Bee skep resting on the forest floor …drawn from research out here on the internet… and glowing with a light from within …drawn from memory.
Bees themselves …courtesy of the coneflowers, and the zinnias, and the sunflowers and the beebalm of course.
And my muse….Isaac…
This is another painting that was incubating for years …and all the while the tree was growing old, and the clarinet fell from its perch and chipped a tooth, Gully used the string on the beekeepers hat as dental floss, the shoulders on the red coat were hanging on the bathroom door gathering lint and lavender, and Isaac was growing tall.
From the time they were wee little ones, the grandkids have been my muses. The magical way they weave through our lives works its way onto the canvas as illustrated in the painter’s notes for one of my very first Spirit Vessel paintings….Sister Fisher and the Holy Ghost click here to read
When it came time to bring this image to life I originally thought it would be Amanda who was the model. It was Christmas time and the family Barber was here for the annual Pictionary night and I remembered the coat and she tried it on…not a good fit, as my friend Polly would say, so Isaac gave it a try. He’s always been a natty dresser and a cool customer… even in his slippers. And he brought that uniform to life… with the powerful shoulders of an athlete, long limber legs and ruggedly handsome youth…I could see the man within, and, with the sprightly spark of humor and magic that has always been behind Isaac’s eyes…I watched as the Beecharmer himself winked back at me.
A few months later he and his Dad Peter came up for the modeling session. After too much chatting, we banished Pete and Pat to the studio kitchen and I and I worked. We were almost finished when he relaxed the pose and the shadow left his face and he looked directly into the camera…stopped me cold. I had intended to keep the figure anonymous. Features in heavy shadow. But the direct gaze from those eyes changed something. We reworked the lighting and tried again. This time allowing the muse of Isaac himself into the room. I’m learning to step out of my own way and catch those muses on the whisper.
In the end, when I picked up the brushes weeks later to begin, I chose to keep the intensity of his eyes but lower the gaze and keep the narrative focused on charming those bees… or is it on the light ?
Last night Isaac, his Mom Kara and his friend Justin made a special trip up to the studio so he could see this painting before it travels north next week. (In the last blog entry his sister Amanda did the same.)
So now, you can see what’s behind those impish eyes for yourselves….
We love ya kiddo, HN