Five years ago…The model walks onto the model stand. She sits on a stool with her back to the artist. She wears a black feather boa and black hat. There is a stark contrast between the deep blackness of the props and her white skin. The artist looks at her and is reminded of what she has been seeing on the news… a black plume of oil rising from the depths of the sea, settling on top of ocean’s surface. In the artist’s mind, the model becomes a metaphor for the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. (Live models are the best inspiration ever!)
In the studio… putting the metaphorical painting together is like working on a puzzle. So just how am I going to translate this idea? The pose is seated. What is she sitting on? What has become an issue, pollution and endangerment of living things? What living things were affected? Mangrove trees, pelicans, marshland… search for reference material! She can be sitting on the limb of a mangrove tree, playing with the phrase “out on a limb” implying something is at risk. What else is at risk? Ecosystems we can’t even see? The model needs a dress of ocean blue with sequins to represent all the smaller creatures harmed by the disaster. Because of the spill she is draped with a black feather boa with the resulting hat on her head. She is connected to the Earth. Her toe is in the water. The water has that horrible rainbow sheen from the oil. Above, a cloud crosses the figure. There is definitely some grey in this cloud. The pelican stands on a small rock, its habitat severely shrunk down. This painting is a figure study combined with the historical documentation of the BP oil spill. Has the public memory forgotten the environmental disaster? I hope it never does.