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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Guadalupe Arenas III

The Use Of Symbolism In Art

Following in the tradition of Symbolist's, this painting of Guadalupe Arenas surrounded by snakes, eagles, and soon to appear lizards makes use of unrealistic forms to bring the subject to life on the canvas and in the mind of the viewer.  

Since my last blog post about this painting I have spent many hours adding detail as you can see in the following photos:

Borrowing subject matter from the baskets created by Guadalupe Arenas, her serious look, and the palette are all symbols of a life led in harsh conditions while creating beautifully spectacular baskets.  Is she strangled by her situation? Certainly Arenas created her baskets as a means to finance her life while living in a harsh desert environment. The choice of the deep reds and golden tones mimics the actual materials used in her basket work. The soft,more feminine tones, inspired by the fact she was female, provide a sharp contrast to the rest of the symbolism.

The painting is not complete. I will continue to post photos as the work progresses, so please check back or follow my Facebook page:  pamelahuntlee  

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Guadalupe Arenas II

Inside the Creative Process

A portrait of Guadalupe Arenas was started a few weeks ago. Similar in design and composition to Madame Butterfly, this new painting is progressing and I thought I would share a few photos.  This first is the completed Madame Butterfly....

Madame Butterly
40 x 40
Acrylic on Canvas

The portrait of Guadalupe Arenas will have a similar palette and composition to Madame Butterfly, however the design elements will differ. Arenas wove eagles and snakes, as well as lizards into her carefully crafted baskets so those creatures will be represented.

The larger pigment areas of the canvas are applied.

An eagle shape, reminiscent of that used by Arenas, appears.

A darker area toward the bottom of the canvas is added.

Work begins on the snakes.

Additional work on the snakes.

This final photo is how the canvas looks this morning before I pick up the brushes and pigments to begin working again. There is much much more detail to be added that I am carrying around inside my head and appears in the sketches, so check back to watch the progress.

These portraits bring focus and attention to the women who lived in harsh conditions during the late 1800's into the early/mid 1900's, making the transition from traditional tribal life to the European influenced way of life. The beautiful vessels created under the tutelage of their mothers were originally utilitarian in use but became collector items during the Curio Trade in the early 20th Century. Guadalupe Arenas, member of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians,  was one of the basket weavers whose work has become highly prized and is included in private and museum collections.  

To contact me click HERE
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Saturday, January 2, 2016

Guadalupe Arenas

The Beginning Of A New Portrait

Welcome to 2016, a new year, and the beginning of a new portrait.  This painting is inspired by a chance meeting with a woman who owns two baskets woven by Guadalupe Arenas, and having the opportunity to see several baskets woven by this woman who lived and worked in the Coachella Valley during the late 1800's into the 1900's.  Her work is respected, revered, valued.  It is a wonder to see the intricate, tight, carefully crafted baskets she created which are rich with careful design.

Guadalupe Arenas Snake and Eagle Basket 

Large Storage Basket, circa 1910.
Guadalupe Arenas Snake Basket

After being invited into the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum to conduct research, I was able to come up with three photographs of Guadalupe Arenas which became the inspiration for the face on the canvas.

Guadalupe Arenas

Guadalupe Arenas

Guadalupe Arenas

These three photos seem to be from different time periods, so the challenge is to meld them into one representational, stylized face.  Having already selected my palette, it was a matter of layering on color, shadow, and some definition before moving on to other areas of the canvas.  This face is not complete, but it is a beginning.

Desiring to create a similar composition to my last painting, 'Madame Butterfly' (seen hanging on the wall in the photo above), I sketched onto the canvas with thin pigment various elements Guadalupe Arenas used in her baskets.

It is not my desire to recreate her designs exactly but to use her snakes, eagles and lizards, with my own interpretation.

With these portraits I want to bring focus and attention to the women who lived in harsh conditions creating beautiful vessels under the tutelage of their mothers. Baskets which were originally utilitarian became collector items during the early 20th century disappearing into private collections. Guadalupe Arenas was one of these basket weavers whose baskets are highly valued today. 

 This last photo shows some of the under and back ground painting that has been applied to the canvas.  Work on the portrait continues daily.  Welcome to 2016 and this new portrait.

 To contact me click HERE
To visit my web site click HERE