It has been pretty fabulous at Gator Girl Art lately. I will tell you this one tale…
I was at my agent, Derrick Hemphill’s house. (Cool, huh?) He was having an open house to introduce his huge, new printer. While I was there, I asked Derrick if he could get permission for me to paint a Mardi Gras Indian. He knows a lot of people and he grew up in the Treme.
Right away, he asked his mother to go down stairs and get Big Chief David Montana. This threw me right out of my comfort zone. I never thought of painting a Big Chief. He came upstairs and he agreed to let me to paint him. I also, got to see his house, the suit he is working on, and lots of photos.
This is all so cool. Google him. He’s famous.
I chose to paint him in a pink suit. He let me borrow a reference photo.
So, I haven’t yet continued with my New Orleans Musician series. I still have several large canvases gessoed in black and ready to go.
I started on a 30 x 40 inch canvas. I painted the border in Golden Alizarin Crimson. Then I painted the entire canvas, including the border in Old Holland Iridescent Carmine. It is a vivid crimson… a beautiful pink.
Here is the finished painting (as far as I know).
It is a little tilted on purpose. I was worried about all of the little feathers, but they turned out really fun to paint. I used a fan brush and loaded it with three colors of pink. I used The Chief as the light source. I am a little proud of that idea.
This is the first year that we stayed in New Orleans for Christmas. We tried to do some fun activities that happen only during the holiday. Mostly we ate out.
This is what I think I know… The bon fires go on for 3 miles. They need a permit and have a maximum height of 15 feet. They all start at 7 pm on Christmas Eve, wind permitting. This is a tradition going back a 100 years or more. The reasons vary, and my favorite version is that the bon fires light the way for Santa Claus.
Saint James Parish is about 30 minutes west of New Orleans. It took well over an hour to get to the river on Christmas Eve. We went to Paulina to see the beginning of the bon fires, then we drove through Lutcher and Gramercy.
It’s dark, so you can only see the structures in front of you.
The arrow is pointing down river. All of the lights on the levee are bon fires.
This is a close up.
Now you can listen to it. Most structures are full of fire crackers, and people shoot off BIG fireworks. I took these photos with my phone…
It’s very cold here. Cold for us. Because most of the houses are raised 3 or so feet when it freezes our pipes freeze and sometimes break. We keep a trickle of water running in our faucets and hoses. Sometimes the pipes still break.
This is my first large painting in the series New Orleans Musicians. I think I will paint six. The musicians will be close up and I am planning on putting their instrument somewhere in the painting. There might be a corresponding cool cat painting. We’ll see.
James Booker was one cool guy. You can watch a movie called Bayou Maharaja on Netflix. I think the movie has all the footage ever filmed of James Booker. I am not very musical, but even I can tell his piano playing is amazing.
I am historically terrible at following through on a series. I have three 30×40 inch canvases gessoed in black to encourage me.
I love this painting. It pretty much painted itself. Maggie and Raffi found a bunch of frames out with the trash near their school. I thought the frame looked like pelican feathers. I washed it, added some glue at the joints, and oiled it.
Katy cut a piece of 1/4 inch plywood for me. I painted on 3 coats of black gesso. For the feathers, I applied the paint fairly thick, starting with darker colors and going lighter. Long strokes for the body and short strokes for the head. I applied 3 coats of varnish to finish.
I am sharing my secret feather tool. They are“Not quite a brush. Not quite a palette knife. Princeton Catalyst Blades and Mini-Blades are crafted from flexible silicone to give artists exciting new tools for expression. Mounted on artist brush handles, they offer a unique blend of tradition and innovation.” (I am not an affiliate, just a fan.)
The Pelican is 16 x 20 inches. I am selling it for $500. If you read my blog, I will let you have it for $400 (plus shipping), because I think you should be rewarded for reading my blog.
I am starting an email list. You might be asking yourself, “What are the benefits of getting an email update?” Emails will be short and to the point, infrequent, you will see my new paintings first and sometimes receive incentives that will not be offered anywhere else. Send me your email address at email@example.com.
I am back to painting the book, Hey. So, I’m a Baby.
It is pretty scary being black in America. I only know this through the news and hearing my friends talk. I have never had to have the discussion with my children about what to do if they are stopped by the police. I haven’t had to explain to them that they SHOULD NOT RUN through our neighborhood and to NEVER wear a hoodie.
I am near the top of the entitled group. I would be at the top if I were male. Part of being entitled is not having to think about entitlement. I was never afraid to be stopped by the police. In the handful of times I have been stopped, “I am sorry officer. Did I do something wrong?” was enough to never get out of the car and never get a ticket.
You might wonder why I painted Don’t Shoot. I relate to being a woman who is unsafe. I know what it is like to be afraid. I see black women on the news crying because they are so scared of being pulled over
and I feel sad and angry.
I want racism and misogyny to disappear.
It made me feel better to paint about the problem the same way it made me feel better to participate in the Women’s March on Washington. What can we do besides stand together. Together we are stronger.
The background is red for her anger/ grey for her measured non-response. I gave her a short haircut and urban colors to epitomize her strength. She looks small and powerful. I also opted against long lashes. I didn’t want her to need any of the feminine trappings. She is woman enough as is.
We’ve had a lot of rain here. Even after living in New Orleans for 6 years, I expect the rain to be cold. In California most of the rain happens in the winter. Sometimes, in New Orleans, I make hot chocolate in my air-conditioned house and don’t realize it is 90 degrees outside.
This is “Tropical Storm”.
I like a tropical storm if I can stay inside. A tropical storm can mean a lot of wind and rain. We bring things inside that might blow around the yard.
The unsettling thing about a tropical storm is that it can turn into a hurricane. I live near a lot of people with Hurricane Katrina PTSD, with good reason.
This makes the tension rise.
I painted this during Tropical Storm Cindy. She did not develop further.
Here is some storm information…
In a tropical depression the winds start to circulate. When the winds exceed 38 mph, it turns into a Tropical Storm. The maximum wind speed in a tropical storm is 73 mph. A hurricane has wind rotation with speeds of 74 mph and above.
Hurricanes are rated 1 through 5.
1 is 74-95 mph
2 is 96-110 mph
3 is 111-129 mph
4 is 130-156 mph
5 is greater than 156 mph
Almost all hurricanes happen during hurricane season. Where I live, the season is from June 1 through November 30. Most hurricanes happen in August and September and rarely in November.
I changed the starry sky in the most recent Swamp Girl painting. Looking at the painting close-up, the sky looked ragged. I smoothed it out and added some tiny dots for stars. Painting some stars blue and leaving some stars silver made some stars look farther away.