Sunday, March 18, 2007

Mona Lisa's Take on High Society

"You will never be in the best society unless you can learn to stand on your heads," she kept saying to them; and every now and then she would show them how it was done. -Oscar Wilde
click on the picture to enlarge
This is a mixed media oil-on-canvas / collage painting that I created just for fun. It began with no meaning at all and evolved into something quite intriguing! Somehow I really love this painting. It has so much personality and I find everyone in my house just staring at it.

I took my inspiration from a Challenge in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. The bird and "half-face" was to be used in "something." It was a simple line drawing, like what you would expect to find in a coloring book. One person used it as a hat for Mona Lisa, and I just thought that was the most bizarre thing I had ever seen, yet there was something about it that made me want to go to town with this. I just had to give it a go.

I cut the tip of Mona Lisa's head off (gee that sounds funny!) in order to put on the "hat." I decided to keep it and re-use it in the picture. Since there was a head on Mona's head, and a bird standing on that, I decided somebody should stand on the tip of Mona's head as well. Why not "close the circle" and have her stand on her own head? Why the red heels? Well, doesn't every fashionable high society woman wear red pumps?? My mother does, at any rate. Anyhow, they go with Mona's stylish modern haircut. Getting sillier by the minute... "There just has to be a meaning to this," I assured myself. I didn't know what I could do with it. I took a chance and decided to go with this idea.

One of my favorite writers of all time is Oscar Wilde. He is just so witty and constantly pokes fun at snooty high-class people who think they are the "cat's meow." I took a quote from one of his short stories- "The Devoted Friend." The story is about a Mama Duck who wants to train her babies to be in high society. "You will never be in the best society unless you can learn to stand on your heads," she kept saying to them;" and every now and then she would show them how it was done." Ridiculous, isn't it? Actually, it's quite genius. I knew I was on to something.

The story goes on to say, "But the little ducks paid no attention to her. They were so young that they did not know what an advantage it is to be in society at all."
(smart babies!)
Of course there is the old Water-rat who cries, "What disobedient children! They really deserve to be drowned." And the Mama Duck retorts, "Nothing of the kind. Every one must make a beginning, and parents cannot be too patient."

Read the whole story here

I love this story. I love Oscar Wilde's sarcastic humor.

The "lump" of a dress was inspired by Teesha Moore, a journal artist whose wonderfully zany style reminds me of Monty Python's Flying Circus. Remember that? I liked that simple shape- sort of unexpected yet gleefully simple. And it's the same shape as the "head halves," or "lumps," if you will.

To keep the "lump" theme continuous, I created a background of mountains in the same shape. I also made simple lines in the paint to create subtle interest, and made "lumpy" mushrooms.
The cat with that big striped hat is also inspired by Teesha Moore. I love the cat. His entire face has that lump shape, so he just "belongs there." The bird is also the same shape, just upside-down, and the cat seems to want to get him but he will never be able to. That's why the bird has a crown and the cat is wearing a dummy cap. (BIRD must be a full fledged member of the best society, since he is on top of the totem pole...)Still, kitty seems a bit annoyed at everybody's obvious stupidity. And I think he is right.


The mountain in the background is collaged with a sewing pattern. It's got arrows, and size options (small medium and large). The grain arrow points right at Mona Lisa. I don't think she is too concerned about size, and does not worry what the rest of society might think.... She's beautiful anyhow, even if she wears a lump of a dress. Good on her!

Finally the picture has topiares with pink roses. I happen to love roses. The roses have crystals in them. Not particularly lumpy, but they add just the right contrast.

I love roses. That's a story for some other day.




















This painting was a real challenge for me. I honestly don't know how I thought of these things. But they all come together in one composition- one thing at a time- and it works! It's funny how that works sometimes.

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