This is one of three pieces I’m working on for a friend. (You might have seen a bit of a sample here.) She has these beautiful ceramic dresses that she bought overseas, and they are very meaningful to her. Recently she asked if I would create painted versions of them that she could use on her website. My creative challenge: She didn’t want the paintings to look exactly like the original ceramics, and she wanted a bit of whimsy. But they obviously still needed to be recognizable.
I allowed myself to get incredibly stuck over how to do this. I finally decided that the most important thing was to keep a loose hand as I drew and painted. It was my hope that that would create the whimsy without diverting too far from the original. I used photo references to try to get an approximation of scale and layout, but I didn’t spend time ensuring that each petal was shaped exactly right or that each paint splatter was represented. In fact, I didn’t allow myself to spend much time at all on sketching before I started painting, and then not much time at all on thinking before just doing. I tried to capture the idea of the dress but to create it freely and loosely.
Original ceramic beside the painted version. I am trying really hard not to notice all the dissimilarities!
For that reason, I also chose to use paint for the outline work, which I would normally do with ink, as I feel like I have more control with a pen. The outlines in the original dress are not nearly so wobbly and uneven as mine, and that concerned me at first (not fussing over the precision of the lines was hard for me!). But, when I was done, I realized that the loose look of my version actually communicates a sense of the slightly rough texture of the ceramics, and so somehow it all works.
I am now feeling much creative relief, and I am hopeful that, having solved these “problems” of translation, I can move forward more quickly on the next two. More to come….