Thursday, May 8, 2008

Starting, At Last

I'm finally getting a start on work for my August show at Onda Gallery. I guess I started officially a few weeks ago when I made this assemblage. The title is "Straw Into Gold". The collage refers to Veronica Franco's status as an "Honored Courtesan" in Renaissance Venice, as well as her career as a brilliant poet. Here the assemblage is hung on the wall, but it can also be freestanding and open or closed. The outside shows a reproduction of the frontispiece of her collection of poems with clear encaustic medium over it.

The assemblage was fun to create. I started with a trusty wooden cigar box that I painted with ochre ink mixed with encaustic medium. On the right side is a reproduction of a portrait of Veronica by the master painter Tintoretto, for whom she posed.

Veronica here sports a real earring from my collection of mateless earrings. This side of the assemblage is embellished with hand decorated paper, straw-like paper, cotton, dried roses, gold glitter, a pink feather, a broken piece of tile, ribbon, and a small scroll on which I've copied a fragment of one of Veronica's poems. Veronica's image is fused with clear encaustic medium.

Below: A close up of the left side of the assemblage. The image in the middle is from a watercolor done of Veronica during her lifetime. Behind this is hand decorated paper, paint and ink, "straw" paper, a reproduction of one of Veronica's poems, ribbon, small scrolls of vintage paper on which I've copied some of her poems, and some potpourri I bought in Italy.

Below are two parts of what I think will be a diptych. The image below will be the left side. The background is many layers of re-inker mixed with medium and sprayed in some areas with alcohol. I later scratched into the surface for a ray-like effect.

The collaged figures are from an old engraving of a Venetian courtesan. I didn't like the face in the engraving, so I substituted a black and white reproduction of one of my paintings for the faces. Under the courtesan images is an inkjet transfer of a page I typed of Veronica's writing. I had placed a net fabric with stars over the lower part of the picture. Later I decided to rip it in places--not sure why, but I like it. (Someone else suggested this was symbolic of the undressing of the courtesan--makes sense.)

In the background I stamped: "La Cortigiana Onesta", or "The Honored Courtesan."

Below is the other side of the diptych. I made Veronica's dress from hand decorated paper; her ruff and fan are from paper doilies. She holds a 3-D book with the title of her poetry collection. Veronica's face is collaged from a small reproduction of one of my paintings. Her hair, face, and hands are painted with acrylic and ink. The background is stained with re-inker in mustard, russet, and butterscotch.

The writing says, "Veronica, ver' unica poeta." When Veronica Franco was in her 30's a jealous rival poet had written cruel verses about her. They started with a pun in Italian: "Veronica, ver' unica puttana." In English, "Veronica, a truly unique whore." I changed the last word to poet!

I'm not satisfied with the photo I took of this side of the diptych. I'll take another in daylight--who knows, I might still make some changes...

Thanks for looking!

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