Aahh...A Fairy Tale...or two!
I have been working on a series of paintings, for the past few months, utilizing vintage illustrations from Fairy Tales. This was never conceived as a series, but evolved into one over time. I began looking at vintage illustrations on the internet (I don’t recall what led me in that direction) and started to envision how I might incorporate them. How could they be manipulated as backdrops to some larger idea or issue? So, I printed copies of a few of the illustrations that caught my eye and put them to my large collection of photos for future reference. After a year or so, while rummaging through the photo pile in search of a painting idea, out popped the image of dark trees with a colorful opening in the woods. Digging deeper into the photo pile, I came across a photo of two 1940’s girls interacting with each other….It seemed to me, that one of the girls pinning something to the other girl’s coat. Both appeared calm yet resolute about something….Hhhmm….They were a perfect contrast to the vintage illustration with its dark branches leading to a colored vortex. I had a composition and sketched it out. It wasn’t until I began painting the girls that the idea of painting the dominant girl in full color and adding partial color to the other became a reality. At that point, I was pleased with what I had, but I really wasn’t certain what the “big picture” idea for this work really was. After a bit more contemplation, I saw the vortex as an entry into a world of literature (fairy tales), and the girl, in full color, as an established inhabitant of that world. She then became the initiator- welcoming the other girl into this alternate world of thought, emotions and adventure. Since Fairy Tales take place once upon a time, rather than in actual times, I appreciated the fact that the girls appear to be from the past…but not a too distant past…I had my painting: “Entering The Fairy Tale”.
Once I had one completed painting utilizing a vintage illustration, I went on the search for more that I could fashion into compelling work. The next became a feminist statement. “Leaving The Fairy Tale” was born of my mind’s wanderings re: why might someone want to leave a fairy tale world or existence? Perhaps because they don’t really exist in the first place! So often, I am reminded, we believe in a fairy tale existence because, as children, we are bombarded with the message that when X happens (you fill in the blank) all will be happy and well! If only I had the right spouse or job, or children or…whatever, THEN I could be happy. The reality is that life just doesn’t work that way. I think that women, especially, become more militant and angry with age and often strike out on their own, to experience the life that they missed by raising children and being care takers. So, off goes the old woman in my painting….leaving behind the beautiful, dreamlike tree house, so longed for in her youth, but so tarnished in reality.
“Inside The Fairy Tale” was meant to illustrate the shear joy of being right in the middle of a cherished fairy tale. A dream come true. Being one with the dragon- is epic! The power, the adrenaline, the conquest!
For “Turns Out She Had A Life Of Her Own” I return to feminism. I had a vintage image of a young, female, cartoonish character walking across the tightrope, seemingly as light as air. I envisioned a more precarious situation. An older, more jaded woman crossing on the rope….but why? Aaahhh…she was making an escape! That false Fairy Tale once again needed to end . This time the woman is carried, safely we hope, away from the demanding, judgmental, entitled man.
Finally, in “Late Stage: Return To The Fairy Tale”, I imagined an old woman returning to the Fairy Tale after having left it. For some, the Fairy Tale retains its luster, remaining a place yearned for still- in the innocence and vulnerability of old age. A comfort zone filled with friendship, bright colors and quiet day dreamed promises. A return to inner self.