Sunday, May 2, 2010

Venus, The Bringer of Peace

And now we come to my favourite - Venus. I love Holst's ethereal, otherworldly, adagio.

Not only is she the bringer of Peace but is also the goddess of Love and Beauty, known to the Greeks as Aphrodite, and is held to influence desire and sexual fertility. Sounds like a good-time gal!

Venus was known as the Daughter of Heaven and Sea, the child of Uranus and Gaia, and represents the feminine aspect in all of us.

Earth's "sister planet", Venus is the 2nd planet from the sun and has no moons:

This is a 'real life' image with true colours. Porcelin white I especially like the pale violet poles, north and south.

My favourite representation of her hangs in the Uffizi gallery in Florence where I saw her one day a number of years ago. The painting by Sandro Botticelli, is huge at 1.725 x 2.785 m, and mind-blowing when you first walk in the gallery room. There she stands with fabulous red hair cascading down standing on her oyster shell which, having been born from the sea is carried perfectly to shore with the wind gently wafting her along. An attendant (one of the three Horae nymphs of the seasons)waits to greet and cover her with a red robe:

What a beautiful image. Just stunning!

But what can I make of her? Well, If I was to stop and think about it too much I would give up right here and now with no hope of producing anything remotely approaching such a wonderful painting.

But I make a start with a drawing in my sketchbook inspired by a photograph of Janet Jackson attending some red-carpet do in evening gown and with one hand raised in greeting to the admiring crowds. It strikes me as a beatific pose and one that I perhaps can make use of for my Bringer of Peace:

Pencil in Sketchbook, A4.

Too often previously I have become unstuck by starting with the figure and unable to impose a satisfactory level of abstraction so for this painting I start with some scribble colour studies exploring how I feel about the subject and what colours arise:

Neocolours in sketchpad, A4.
I recognise that these are the same colours as in my "Facial Feelings" painting 'Serenity' and am happy with that.

But now I need to somehow find my Venus out of this chaos, and I do this by superimposing JJ over the colours:

Neocolours in sketchpad, A4.

And now the shapes begin to form in my mind:

Neocolours in sketchpad, A4.

However, I also want to show her standing full-length top to toe.

After a few false starts which, although frustrating at the time, are necessary for me to take the subject fully into my mind and variously dream about her, worry about her, and formulate a cunning plan to finally realise her:

Oils on board, 61x42cm.

In the process she has found a robe which wraps around her falling away in loose drapes and, in passing reference to Botticelli's Venus, she stands on a notional shell to transport her across the heavens.

She is mysterious, and statuesque like Michelangelo's 'Venus de Milo', although at least my girl has two arms.

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