I'm so excited about the new year! I've got a new notebook, a new sketchbook, and a new project! I'm calling this year of creative habits the dead artists society. Each month I'll study an artist and create a series based on their life and artwork.
For January, I've started with Frida Kahlo. I have to say that before this year (this week!) I wasn't a a fan of Frida. I never really got the big deal about her. That is quickly changing, as I expected it would once I really studied her. Frida is a badass.
January 1st I started a new sketchbook with an intro to the project. I'm using this little sketchbook and I was hoping to fill one, each month, per artist but it's already looking like that's not going to happen. Maybe two artists in each one will be more realistic.
Possibly I went a little overboard with books but I prefer real books rather than googling and Internet searches. I got three books from the library and I bought three. So far, I've mostly focused on Frida Kahlo at Home and a Biography of Frida Kahlo. I've also started watching the movie Frida which is based on the biography. I'm loving both of these books and find myself going back and forth between the two. The biography is more detailed (500 pages!) and has quotes directly from Frida. Frida at Home has more of an overview but includes lots of photos of Frida and photos of her work.
Each day I've been reading and taking notes and "scratching" as it's called in The Creative Habit. "Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderon was born (7-6-1907) and died at La Casa Azul." I love floor plans and so I photocopied that for my sketchbook. I broke out the watercolors so I could play around with cobalt blue.
The first of her art that really stood out to me was My Grandparents, My Parents and I. I loved what I read about this family tree painting––the themes of gender, fertility, hybridity, the life cycle, and nationalism.
Notes from day 3: "age 6 struck with polio, bedridden for months, her right leg was shorter and thinner for the rest of her life, name called "peg leg Frida" age 15: began attending National Preparatory School to become a doctor. It was there she met Diego Rivera, a muralist assigned to paint a wall in the school theatre. "
Notes from day 4: After the bus/trolley accident which left Frida with multiple fractures in her spinal column and pelvis, broken collarbone, two ribs, and right leg, a crushed right foot, and dislocated shoulder (not to mention being impaled by a metal handrail) Frida never painted the accident but she did find a votive painting (ex-voto) that depicted "a scene uncannily similar to her accident. It showed a girl lying on the ground between a trolley and a bus that had collided. Frida altered the image to make it even more fitting to her situation, painting in joined eyebrows on the girl and writing Coyoacan on the side of the bus."
Each week I plan to create a piece based on my research. I thought I'd start with a portrait as a way of easing into this new project. Though it's pretty much what I've been doing for a year, I did change it up a little bit by not working square or on wood. This piece is 8x10" and gouache on heavy watercolor paper.
I'm super excited about this new project and about working larger this year. I hope you'll join me and let's learn about some dead artists this year. Wanna be a part of the #deadartistssociety? :)