This week, let’s dive into the old-world feel and get inspired by the opera singer Edita Gruberová!
Ideas Behind the Painting
I listened to the opera singer Edita Gruberová (1946-2021) while working on this painting. Her version of the famous aria Queen of the Night from the opera Magic Flute is exquisite. Gruberová’s voice is partly like a bird’s not a human’s voice at all, and the aria brings that up well. The music editor Outi Paananen calls her a nightingale of Slovakia.
The transformation from a human to a bird felt inspiring. Maybe I could do a transformation of a painting so that my free and careless strokes would turn into decorative swirls, adding an old-world feel to an abstract floral painting. I had done something similar just recently but in a much smaller piece. See this blog post where I revamped a flower painting! From that experiment, I knew that it would take both time and patience. In a bigger piece, I could also get lost in the details so that the painting becomes confusing.
Before listening to Edita Gruberová, I already had a lot of ideas, collected in the blog post called Pink Inspiration. And now I wanted to add her and her birds to the painting too. I heard Edita’s story from Outi Paananen’s excellent radio program “Narrin aamulaulu” (in Finnish) on the Finnish Broadcasting Company. She had a clear artistic vision and strong willpower, and she demanded a lot of herself. It inspired me to challenge myself too.
Bringing Old-World Feel – 2 Tips!
In the past, painters often started with sketches and made detailed underpaintings with two or three colors. But a looser approach is not an enemy to the old-world feel.
When you want to bring an old-world feel to an abstract painting, two things are the most important:
- Blurry on the bottom! Start from the background with soft transitions from light to dark, add blurry shapes, and paint like you would see the scenery from a far distance.
- Sharp on the top! Add sharp shapes and lines on the top of blurry ones. You can sharpen some blurry shapes but do it only partly, leaving some parts more undefined. But most importantly, let sharp lines and shapes sing the melody of their own. If the background is the orchestra, the top layer is the singer that has a melody of her own.
The thickness of the lines can change in places and there can be decorative dots too.
Timelessness Takes Time
It’s always tempting to get the piece finished quickly, but to get the sense of timelessness, the time has to stop while painting. So, I focused on tiny details and immersed myself in building a wondrous world with curves and swirls.
My lines are like old-fashioned handwriting in places. I have practiced them by drawing for a few years. Any note or waste paper can be used for practicing! I often doodled on planner pages.
Intuition and the Ability to (Not to!) See
As usual, I didn’t use any direct reference photos for the painting but worked intuitively. However, I tried to reduce the human ability to see ordinary concrete objects like flowers, faces, or such in simple forms. For a long time, I have thought that the ability to see is a part of creativity. But the more I create, the less I need the ability, at least in the first place. Seeing too soon makes me hurry and my art much less unique. So I try to let the shapes fly free and the big picture appear without too much forcing and seeing.
During the process, a little bird-like mesh appeared on the right. When I was making the final touches, and intentionally made him a partner in the center.
Sadly, Edita died last year, just before I discovered her, so I can’t send her a photo. But I want to honor her with this blog post and ask you to listen to her singing on Youtube. Isn’t that inspiring!
A Series in Progress
I have been painting like mad this month because I have to get everything finished for my solo show in June very soon. So, there are lots of paintings in progress in the studio!
Easter was mostly spent with brushes, and if this wasn’t my ultimate passion, I would be quite exhausted already! Also, seeing the flow of wonderful creations from the students in my community Bloom and Fly energizes me a lot.
Let’s keep creating and inspiring each other!