My Frida Kahlo

 

Frida Kahlo is an inspiration to so many and she has been having more than a moment in popularity just lately. Wherever you look right now her unique and distinctive monobrow seems to be displayed on anything from shopping bags to aprons and magnets to mugs in some of the trendiest gift shops in my home town, Bristol.

But her ubiquitous image appearing on all kinds of gift items is not the reason that I felt compelled to tackle her beauty albeit these may have had some responsibility in raising my awareness.

I noticed on my Instagram feed that people were using quotes by Frida to inspire and this led me to want to get to know more about her. She has, I learned, become something of a feminist icon and it is this primarily that peeked my interest.

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Frida Kahlo and flowers (detail – earlier in painting progress) ©Mary Price 2016

Her tenacious approach to a life marred by physical disability and disappointment is famously and beautifully reflected in the wonderful paintings she made where she pours emotion and her own life story through self portraiture and symbolism.

Frida said, “I don’t paint dreams or nightmares, I paint my own reality.” To follow Frida’s paintings chronologically throughout is to follow her life. She lost herself in the very act of painting and found herself reflected back onto the canvas. Despite being unable to move for much of her life she found freedom through her art. She famously said, “Feet , what do I need them for when I have wings to fly.”

This sense of how painting can give wings to fly to an imaginary freedom resonates with me entirely. Painting, I find, is an escape route into another place, another universe where when lost in the act, time stands still and reality is for the moment suspended in a creative dream.

My Frida is relaxed with her eyes closed and surrounded with a meadow of imaginary flowers symbolising her beauty and reflecting her enigmatic passionate energy. She also once said, “I paint flowers so they will not die” so I wanted my Frida to be almost floating or bathing in flowers.The bath of flowers is also an important analogy in respect of her famous painting,’What the water gave me’.

Her palm tree earrings are where I have chosen to connect us both. Palm trees are my symbol reflecting my love of travel, natural beauty and by their swaying loveliness growing best in warmer climates a sense of eternal optimism and hope.

 

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Frida Kahlo and flowers ©Mary Price 2016

 

Inspired by travel exhibition – Bristol Tobacco Factory

I have a forthcoming solo exhibition entitled ‘Inspired by travel – Paintings by Mary Price’ at the Tobacco Factory cafe and bar starting on Monday 5 September and running for the entire month. I will be sharing and selling work painted during the past year inspired by my travels to Spain and Portugal. Full details see the Tobacco Factory website here

The exhibition will feature a number of larger works on canvas as the space at the Tobacco Factory lends itself well to big paintings which is great for me as I love to paint big.

The show includes a series that reflects my love of wandering  aimlessly around narrow side streets in the cities of Porto, Lisbon, Cadiz, Malaga and Seville as well as some of the pretty towns on the Algarve.

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Cadiz Casa ©Mary Price 2016

The work in the show reflects my fascination with old windows and doors and a series of imaginary buildings that are a mixup of essence of place and memory. I always draw and take lots of photographs when I travel but my paintings are far from representational. Anyone who reads these blog posts will know that I favour an intuitive way of expression.

For me this means building up layers of marks and tonality before imposing imagery that inspires in the moment. I like to begin from a space that is free and easy and to hone detail and subject later in my working process. Sometimes happy accidents on the page where imagery starts to emerge will set me off in one direction, at other times I have a sense of what I am trying to achieve and a notion of the vague direction the painting is heading in.

I tend to go through phases of obsession with different inspirations and the current focus is on fabulous imaginary homes imbued with various symbols that represent place in memory.

if you would like to read more about how travel inspires my work please go to this post on travel memory paintings

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Sevilla Casa ©Mary Price 2016

If you would like to find out more please feel free to contact me via the form below.

Process, inspiration and another painting of a window

Colour, brushstrokes, imagery from travel memories, trinkets, and symbols, childlike simplicity, thick paint and movement.

Magical things happen when these things collide and bring into being something new that wasn’t there before. This place doesn’t exist anywhere other than on this canvas. It is purely imaginary and it grew and emerged gradually, I had no preconception. I had not planned the little fishy or the bird or the two sunshine orbs. They turned up because they were meant to be there.

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Window on another world 90 x 90 cms – acrylic on canvas

Escaping from realism into a fantasy of colour.  Painting is a physical and an emotional pursuit and it’s all about the process. Yes that phrase. All about the process. Well it’s true, it has to be about the doing. The little decisions. What pot of paint to open next? Why put this colour against that one? Why cover up that mark or choose that tool? It’s the randomness and the miracle that appeals – the continually evolving little surprises. This could have been so different. It could have become anything.

The process allows letting go before even the tiniest drip has splotted – does that word even exist?

There was no plan. I’ve continued with an obsession – old windows. But these windows don’t look like the windows that I photograph. They are different and vibrant rather than old peeling paint. So why paint big colourful windows when the photos – the inspiration source is so different? What is this reality?

The answer I feel is that it’s all in the mess up of memory and the edges of the windows give the painting a measure of controlled form. And this allows the bursts, the reactions to bright summer fauvist colour to work.

There is no reality here, simply expressive responses to a cacophony of experiences.

Symbolic simplifications, remembered motor movement from previous drawings and a love and enjoyment of the physicality of splatting and placing and dripping and smudging. Oh yes and splotting paint with wild abandon. I checked – it’s not in the dictionary – it should be!

Cactus and carnival inspiration

Tenerife is an island of fantastic beauty, a hard black landscape sculpted by massive volcanic lava eruptions, where prickly cacti grow with so many triffid like variations in weed like abundance.

This week I took photographs of the riot of colour at the Los Gigantes carnival and made a series of quick sketches of cacti.

Here are a few drawings and photos capturing some inspirations together with a painting made at a little studio in the main square at Los Gigantes.

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Cactus celebration – acrylic on canvas

 

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‘Lives lived here’ – progression of a painting

Last weekend we wandered the quiet winter streets  of Porto stealing photographs of street art, old doors, old windows, strings of washing, lived in windows with decorative lace curtains and watched as birds circled in the sky above us.

This post shows the progression of my current work in progress, a large canvas depicting an old door and integrating motifs based on memories of the city. I’m calling the painting ‘Lives lived here’ as so much of this city has buildings that are unoccupied but which speak of their history in subtle ways.

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First layer with outline composition painted onto wet canvas                                                                                                                  ©Mary Price 2016

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Second layer introduces dark tones and a variety of marks scratched into the surface with sharp bamboo skewers                   ©Mary Price 2016

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Third layer and more colours added and elements and motifs to bring meaning into the work are added, symbols, arrows, birds and the washing line strings ©Mary Price 2016

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Memories of the street art by Hazul Luzah are introduced into the bottom right corner in the figurative form and the diamond shapes that appear on many of his works; the words ‘lives lived here’ are etched into white paint reinforcing the history of people who inhabited the crumbling buildings that abound in this wonderful city. A lace curtain with a finely stitched bird is a stolen image from a window on the waterfront. I signed the painting thinking it finished but I think I was a little premature. There is more to do. ©Mary Price 2016

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The street art image becomes more defined looking like a huddled ghost whilst the swifts are brought into sharper focus against pale backgrounds. Maybe the figure gives a sense of the past lives lived, a symbol guarding memory. Notice the padlock and chain on the door sealing in the memories. I have since added a heart to the padlock – it may remain or it may be taken away! ©Mary Price 2016