It has been a while since I have had the absolute privilege to paint Marla. We worked together a few years back on a series of paintings, and were featured together in ART TALK magazine with both the model and the artist being asked "what makes an art muse?"
It is an elusive thing and I was reminded of this once again when Marla sat for my teaching class at LAAFA this week. I was excited to see her and paint her again. She always comes prepared looking amazing. Really makes the effort. And one just can't wait to get going. We had decided ahead to do a 50's movie start set-up. She couldn't be more perfect for that old Hollywood glamor look. Think retro Jayne Mansfield but with fiery red aubergine/eggplant hair.
However, I never know what I am going to get when I paint Marla. I also never quite paint her the way I see it in my head. I wanted to do a great piece but it missed the mark I fear. My husband said my head sketch looked like I had thrown myself at the canvas. Hmm.. A student said it was very bold and daring. What does that mean translated? I know the sketch had energy to say the least. And I know I enjoyed painting Marla despite around the teaching situation which presents certain challenges.
And then I think of my favorite master artists who repainted the same face time and time again, J.W. Waterhouse for instance had a "look" that he preferred in his paintings and often used the same model again and again, they didn't always have a consistency. Although Waterhouse came pretty close! Harrison Fisher is another artist I really admire whose women had a certain look and was know to rely on some model favorites. He drew like a dream and did most of his work in watercolor.
The thing is in my head I see Marla, who by the way is a very intelligent and talented jewelry design artist of quite some renown, as a delicate thing. But her exterior is super sexy (think Vargas pinup girl) and colorful, almost larger than life but in a GREAT way with terrific style, a beautiful blue tattoo over most of her back, and tons of VA-VOOM in the best possible way. That undeniable intelligence underneath it and a slight vulnerability perhaps too. It is a powerful mix.
I have decided I may do another painting using my head study for reference to see if I can quiet it down. Maybe Marla should not be quietened down at all. Maybe one should just keep on painting her. Ponder, ponder...
Hmmm...the artist's muse returns.