Oil on museum quality, archival ampersand gessobord™ panel - 8” x 8”
While in Paris this past January, I went to Les Puces de Saint-Ouen which is also known as the Clignancourt Flea Market. What a treasure trove of imagery. From the look of it, this hobby horse was enjoyed by countless French boys and girls. Well, perhaps maybe just the girls, given the floral pattern of the saddle, but then those were simpler times and powdered wigs and makeup was de rigueur and there was no clear line between what was masculine and what was feminine. Barbies for girls and GI Joe for boys would come much later.
I chose to reach back into my distant past and use a technique that I used during my "mime" period. When I was contemplating a career in art, I thought of becoming a fashion illustrator. I loved the wonderful flowing lines of the sketches in my mother's Vogue and Harper's Bazaar magazines by René Gruau and Cecil Beaton. I had no thought of actually designing the couture but I did want to draw it. All that exposure to the fashion photography of the time seeped into my brain. Placing figures pictorially on a grey seamless became my modus operandi. Richard Avedon and Irving Penn had this wonderful shade of grey that soon found its way into my work. A blend of equal parts alizarin crimson, yellow ochre and Prussian blue mixed with white lead was the perfect grey. Oh sure, any combination of complementary colors will produce a neutral grey, but by using this triumvirate, you could pull it in all directions. Want a greener grey? -- add more ochre; a cooler grey, more Prussian and so on. The extraneous elements in the reference added nothing to this painting so I edited them out completely and, taking a page from my own book, I simplified the composition to its bare bones. I think it works. Click on the word "mime" and it will take you to the old theatre paintings that I did in the 70's. A mime is a terrible thing to waste.