Monday, August 17, 2015

Nina Poses a Second Challenge

At 40, Nina’s got it Covered
by Judy Takács
Above is my second Chicks with Balls painting of Nina, which was included in the 2015 Chicks show at Cuyahoga County Community College Gallery East. You may recognize her because, back in 2013, she was my poster woman for Chicks with Balls.

Nina is Grace under Fire
by Judy Takács

Sometime in 2014, Nina told me she wanted to pose a second time. 

We talked about painting her tattoo this time with possibly more flesh showing… and maybe without balls this time…suggesting she had the “balls” to pose without using any balls.

As with all planned paintings, however, sometimes inspiration is more powerful than a list of great concepts.

It was the start of the summer of 2014 and before we could arrange the posing session, I visited Colorado to see the Daniel Sprick solo show, “Fictions” at the Denver Art Museum. We made a rugged family vacation out of it, with outdoor activities in addition to museum trips. One of our family hikes took us to Colorado Springs, just 2 hours south of Denver. 

Colorado Springs had been etched into the long-term storage portion of my brain since 1984, when I purchased my big fat John Singer Sargent coffee table book and discovered the hauntingly beautiful portrait of Miss Elsie Palmer. I saw that her painting was permanently installed at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, and made a silent promise myself that if I ever found myself in Colorado, I’d go see it. 30 short years later, that’s just what I did…and it was infinitely worth skipping the family hike for!

Miss Elsie Palmer
by John Singer Sargent
courtesy Art Renewal Center

Miss Elsie Palmer’s symmetry and simplicity are brilliant. And, though Miss Elsie was a teenager, I saw a connection between her and Nina’s spirit and appearance…and since I’m 13 years older than she is, I’ve always thought of Nina as young…wise beyond her years, but young!

Nina could rock this pose just like Elsie did.

Sargent, of course, had a distinct advantage because of the flowing Victorian dresses his female portrait sitters wore. Not wanting to create a period piece (I think I never have) but one that was “of today,” I posed Nina with items that might compositionally do for my painting what Elsie’s dress did for Sargent’s.

I decided to go to Nina’s story for inspiration and props. I had her pose with baby blankets from all her children.  The striped and foot-printed blankets were a breeze compared to the pink and white knit afghan that had warmed her preemie twins, Cadence and Carmella. I almost threw in the brush a few times, but, short of derailing my new concept, I had no choice but to roll up my sleeves and paint the pink and white knit blankie. I feel I prevailed, but only just barely. It’s not a challenge I’ll take up again soon.

Nina had no need to use a ball for modesty though, her sumptuous auburn hair provided plenty of coverage. I did however include a ball beneath her feet to really drive home the concept of being in charge and to conjure up images of sitting on top of the world after prevailing through the gauntlet of trials her life has taken.

I call this portrait, At 40, Nina’s got it covered.

This painting was shown when
Chicks with Balls returned to Northeast Ohio in 2015!

Cuyahoga Community College Eastern Campus
Gallery East