Wednesday, February 20, 2013

02-20-13. A 2009 spiderweb photo by Sally Gall.

Toro de Osborne (40)

"Toro de Osborne (40)", oil on canvas, 24x24". For sale on Etsy.
The Toro de Osborne, or Osborne bull, has become one of the iconic symbols of Spain. There are about 90 of the 46-foot-tall "bullboards" left standing across the landscape of Spain. They started off as billboards for the Osborne sherry company. They used to all have the word "Osborne" printed on them. They were almost taken down in the 1990s when a law was passed to remove all billboards in the country, but public response saved the signs. As a compromise, almost all of the signs were painted a solid black to remove the advertising.

I have never been to Spain, so I haven't seen any of these signs in person. I have known for a while that the signs were there, but I had no idea about their backstory until I looked it up for this painting. The source for this painting was a photo that I found on Flickr. I cropped it and changed the colors in my painting. I wanted an image that was not postcard-perfect, but more of a quick glimpse as seen from a speeding car, something more like what I would see if I went there myself. Through the process of painting, I feel like I have experienced the space in a way, and now there is a record of that fleeting snapshot moment.

Whenever possible, I like to do things in real life to go along with my paintings. In this case, I would have liked to try Osborne sherry or another sherry for the first time, but none was readily available. So instead, I purchased some Spanish wine and tapas de queso (a fancy phrase for "cheese wedges") at my trusty local Trader Joe's.

The wine was a 2011 La Granja 360 Garnacha Syrah. The cheeses were Iberico, Cabra al Vino, and Manchego. It was a tasty way to deepen my "armchair" long-distance Spain experience. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

02-12-13. A pound of baby cereal for Maxwell.

Fuchsia by the Sunny Sea (640)

Fuchsia by the Sunny Sea (640),  oil on canvas, 24x24 in. (61x61 cm), for sale on Etsy.

While I was working on this painting, I browsed through images and descriptions about the south of France, especially the Côte d'Azur. I have visited Paris and I spent a month working on art in Brittany ten years ago, but I haven't made it to Côte d'Azur and Provence yet. I would really like to go eventually. The painting stems from that desire. The flat, bright blue of the background is a reference to the Mediterranean Sea. (More specifically, it is Sunny Sea Blue, color #640 in Naomi Kuno's Colorscape book. This is part of my larger goal of eventually doing something with all 658 colors in the book.)

I searched online for, but couldn't find, an image of fuchsia flowers growing somewhere in the Côte d'Azur. I learned that there was a craze for growing fuchsia in France during the Victorian era, but I couldn't find direct images to use for sources. I pieced things together from some more generic images of fuchsia flowers and my imagination. As I went along, the piece became increasingly abstract. A cluster of pink flowering trees bloomed along the peaceful seashore. In the end, I hoped to have an image that suggested flowers without being overly specific, just something peaceful and colorful.