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Monday, September 2, 2013

New Things Going On In The Studio, Part II

Painting Portraits

Really?  It's true.  And though I am still painting nature inspired compositions like rocks, pine cones, produce ( I will never tire of these), 

 I am compelled to add this new subject matter, portraits.

My studio is a very busy place with lots going on.

It must have started over forty years ago, my fascination with weaving and other fiber arts that has led me to portraits.  In a college art class I was introduced to warps and wefts and I was smitten.  Further individual study with a variety of weavers and types of weaving led me to experiment with fibers of all types and techniques of all types.  Not only did I train with traditional Navajo rug makers but contemporary artists who used looms and three dimensional techniques which I incorporated into my creative endeavors.

Linen and Flax
Woven by Pamela Hunt Lee 1974

So how did this lead to portraits?  After my move to the Lake Tahoe area in the early 1970's, because of my interest in weaving, I wanted to know about the local Indian women and what they had woven.  Quickly I discovered that Washoe Indian women had a proud sorority of weavers that were active during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and they had woven baskets.    

Knowledge of these Washoe women and their talents influenced my desire to create  baskets (though mine were made from man made threads rather than local plants) which eventually led to a line of jewelry based on basket making techniques.  I also composed series of paintings inspired by traditional women's fiber arts.  Clearly I was and am influenced by women's art and craft.  

Decorative Baskets
Woven by Pamela Hunt Lee

During these years I held on to the image of the historical, local Indian women.  These images have simmered and are finally coming to the surface, finding their way into my sketch books and onto the canvas.  

Sketch of Dat so la Lee
by Pamela Hunt Lee

It's the local Indian basket weavers I want to honor with portraits: Dat so la Lee, Lizzie Peters, Jennie Bryant Shaw, Tillie Snooks, Tootsie Dick, Maggie Mayo James, Lilly James, to name a few.  These women lived and worked in the late 1800's and into the early 1900's.  Their craft was traditionally handed down mother to daughter, the creation of utilitarian vessels that were spectacular in design as well as being useful in life.  Some of these women sat for formal portraits and these photos exist today becoming the inspirational basis for my first portrait paintings.  

Dat so la Lee
Acrylic on Stretched Canvas
12" x 12"

Creating these women in paint is my way of acknowledging  and honoring their lives and their craft.  

Come back, check in, let me tell you what I am thinking and show you what I am doing as I proceed through this new project.  

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