Several years ago, decades ago, as the case may be, my husband and his parents painted an outdoor mural on a piece of plywood and installed it at the back left-hand corner of their garden. Whenever I even think of going over to their house, this is the image that comes to mind: a large face or mask, somewhat similar to one of the great Moai of Easter Island. I’m sentimental about it. I am sure we all are. So, this summer, we decided to paint a large outdoor mural on a piece of plywood and “install” it in our own garden, both as an homage to that first painting and as a newly-beloved object of our own.
The first step has been to come up with an idea of what to paint!
So far, we’ve got four general threads going:
1) Some sort of “tree” related mural to memorialize the very large, very beautiful cherry tree that used to stand in our back yard. (Just now, its final blooms are pictured on the header to this journal.) Just this spring, our 60+-year-old beauty, in full bloom, was taken up by the roots in a gust of wind and crashed down across our fence and into our neighbours’ back yards. No one was injured, thankfully. Although, it caused some interesting neighbourly drama that has been a learning experience for us all. In any case, we miss our tree most terribly!
2) An image of the female lamplighters painted by Paul Delvaux. I have been dying to do this for years, and it will be done regardless of whether it happens in the form of this particular mural or as one of my own.
3) A figure, face, or mask not unlike our inspiration piece across town.
4) A favourite animal.
Over the past few days, the kids have been looking at books featuring the work of some of their favourite artists.
Today, we spent time copying, imitating, and, generally, drawing inspiration from those works towards a design of their own.
Here’s the pile of books they chose to sketch from today. If you are looking to do something similar and if you don’t have anything on hand, it would be easy enough to choose library books:
Klee, A Study of his Life and Work, by Gualtieri di San Lazzaro, New York: Praeger 1957.
Stuart Davis, The Great American Artists Series, by E. G. Cossen, New York: Braziller, 1959.
Henry Moore, My Ideas, Inspiration and Life as an Artist, by Henry Moore & John Hedgecoe. London: Collins and Brown, 1999.
Ancient Egypt, Kingdom of the Pharoahs, by R. Hamilton. Bath: Parragon, 2005.
The Imperial Collection of Audubon Animals, Ed. Victor H. Cahalane. New York: Bonanza.
The World of Henri Rousseau, by Yann le Pichon. New York: Viking, 1982.
And here are the completed sketches beside their inspiration pieces!
Snake. Inspired by Stuart Davis. Still Life with Saw. 1930.
The Tiny Chipmuk. Inspired by Audubon. Colorado Chipmunk.
Marmot Marmot. Inspired by Audubon. Yellow-Bellied Marmot.
The Snake Who Only Reads. Inspired by a page from Ancient Egypt.
The Mask of Strangeness. Inspired by a wooden African mask from Henry Moore’s collection.
“Ah Never Mind!” The Treadmill’s Not Working! Inspiration: The 2012 Olympics.
London with Lights. Inspired by Paul Klee. Town with Watchtowers. 1929.
The Old Tree. Inspired by the landscape that inspired Henry Moore. A tree in the Adel Woods.
Egyptian with Knife and Toy. Inspired by a Relief from the White Chapel of Senusret I at Karnak.
The Mask. Inspired by a wooden African mask in Henry Moore’s collection.
Jaguar. Inspired by Henri Rousseau. Negro Attached by a Jaguar.