Wednesday, September 7, 2011

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The Visual Interview

Tom & The Two Bernices
Photo transfer collage by Cindy Ackland

As part of my Visual Interview project for my course at UVic, I was to interpret a piece done by my studio partner, Cindy Ackland. In my previous post I mentioned that Cindy is a photographer and enjoys making photographic collages. She was working with photographs of her family as she created these collages. The above piece is of her grandparents. When Cindy gave it to me, she mentioned that she was interested in her grandmother's identity. Cindy felt that Bernice had to be 2 different people as she raised her family because Tom was in the military and was often gone. Bernice was one person while Tom was gone and a completely different one when Tom was home.
When Cindy gave me this piece I immediately loved the texture and wanted to recreate it. I didn't ask Cindy for much information about her grandparents because I wanted to see if I could develop my own relationship with them through painting.

Tom & the Two Bernices
Watercolor by Leslie Redhead

I did choose to recreate the photo in watercolor as my interpretation. I started painting the grey of the photo by using French Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna because they create a wonderful grainy texture like the original transfer. As I continued to paint, I felt like I needed to add color to their faces because they started to come to life for me. Then something really interesting happened. I felt impressed to give Bernice different color lipstick. Then the Bernice in the center refused to open her eyes for me. I asked her why? Was it shame? Embarrassment? What? Finally I realized that she was being coy because her husband was present. 
When I discussed this with Cindy, she confirmed what I had discovered. Bernice loved lipstick and was always wearing different colors. Cindy also told me that coy is exactly how Bernice was with Tom. 
It was a fascinating discovery and now I want to paint some of my own ancestors and family members just to see if I have the same experience!


Mimi Torchia Boothby said...

You had a really good experience and I like your painting. I, too have painted family members (grandparents, aunt, uncle, parents) and it is fascinating what you learn about them during the process. Do you know why the original had those stripes?

Leslie Redhead Watercolors said...

Thank you Mimi! The original photo was transferred to printmaking paper that was laid over corrugated cardboard during the transfer. That is why there are the stripes.

meera said...

What a fascinating story behind a painting with a lot of intrigue!

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