Young Actress with Roses
14 by 28 inches
digital painting 2005
Our power went off last night. Off and on. Off and on. Off and on. We were all just getting to sleep and I heard this wild distant sound and the power went off. Then the power came back on. Then there was again this weird distant sound and the power went off and that was that, off and on, all night long. As this happened, I lay there and half asleep I had one of those half-asleep thoughts where is this what the universe sounds like, shutting down for you, when you die. Zonk, bop, and off it goes. All kinds of whacky unbidden thoughts lately. Yesterday Marty got up and said he had found himself, upon waking, meditating on what a space alien would think of Christmas if it walked into a Christmas party, not knowing anything about Christmas, a stream of thought that prompted him finally to think, “Get out of my brain!” and cut off the proceedings because it was a ridiculously meticulous meditation. About the same time I had found myself thinking, “Whatever in the world brings the thought of Dorothy Stratten to my brain?” Because there she was suddenly, a woefully 1980’s blonde Galaxina sitting on her space ship robot’s throne. I never think about Dorothy Stratten and had no reason to be thinking about her. I’ve seen Galaxina a couple of times and thought it was a fun film but the last time I watched it would have been at least ten years ago.
Not that strange unbidden thoughts don’t happen every few minutes but yesterday our brains were apparently more confused than usual by them.
So the power goes off and Marty cut off this and that around the apartment and we still got up this morning to a burned out aquarium pump, and it was no cheap pump. Damn! And then the new LCD monitor, the one that took me forever to calibrate, which I’m still questioning whether it will work for me, wouldn’t come on. Said it was in power save mode and for me please to move my mouse and I did but still it wouldn’t come on so I rebooted and it came on finally. The video card is messed up because the monitor now looks like hell. The new machine, back last night from being tweeked, sits in the corner and maybe today we will or I will be able to finish transfering everything over and get it set up. It may have to be today as the last time two times the power died (it dies frequently here) it took 30 to 40 minutes to get H.o.p.’s computer back on. We have a battery back-up/surge protector on mine. We should get one for H.o.p. too.
Our mail around here sucketh. Relatives mailed cards to H.o.p. at the time of his birthday, December 2nd, and they didn’t get here until yesterday. Nearly two weeks. And that included a card mailed for him in town on December 2nd. A lot of mail we’ve been waiting on for a couple of weeks didn’t get here until yesterday. But some cute cards for H.o.p., celebratory. He had great fun opening them.
We are still figuring out Christmas here. UPS knocked on the window yesterday and apologized for waking me up though I wasn’t asleep. All my life people apologize for waking me up, in sight and on the phone. I must look and sound perpetually sleepy at first auditory and visual glance and it has been extremely annoying, for decades, to have everyone say they’re sorry for waking me up, including my mother-in-law who can say that even if I’ve just stepped out of the car. In the box was a popcorn maker from a relative. I never think of Christmas until the last minute but that and the cards had me looking around Amazon, anywhere, this AM, trying to figure out Christmas gifts. H.o.p. was all excited about the popcorn maker, never having seen one, a microwave popcorn boy. It’s an on top of the stove type. He puzzled over it for the rest of the afternoon. He made dinosaurs out of the styro-popcorn-pellets. “Math, math!” I kept saying now that he’s getting over his cold. “Math! Math!” I said. He replied, “How did the world get here?” and I wanted to hit him over the head as I’ve told him that story a dozen times, what anyone believes they know about it, and he’s seen film on it numerous times at Fernbank. (Which reminds me, there’s a film on the Nile at Fernbanik’s IMAX I promised him we’d see.) I wasn’t up for talking about the beginnings of the world yesterday for some reason. Just wasn’t in me.
He’s still coughing. I’m dribbling kleenex again. Marty said he felt awful yesterday.
As for the header, it is a portrait of my young actress niece. I call that some sense of presence to be eleven and pull off that expression and pose. When I was photographing her for the portrait when she received the roses, she was herself but when she was back on stage during the strike and saw me taking shots she went into the pose. (And, Bibi, if you’re reading this, isn’t she gorgeous?)
That’s what I’ve been working on since Sunday. Hell was painting in every single one of those flocked things on the dress. But this portrait needed all those little flocked dots. For one thing it needed to be a record of her and her roses and the dress her mother made for her for the play. Also, just too stark without the flockings. Needed some activity. Spent hours on a background that you can hardly see, just painting and repainting and paint over, layer on layer on layer, to get some good depth to it. Simple black wouldn’t do. Not with that light-colored dress and shawl. Simple black background and she became all black eyes and nothing else. May have worked with just a facial portrait but not this.
To me she looks remarkably like this portrait Antonello da Messina did, a Sicilian painter, renaissance years. It’s always funny what stares out at you from the canvas. With my niece it was her father and then the man in the Messina portrait, the same mouth. And the shape of the eyes.
You say, “Why didn’t you take the roses out of the cellophane in the painting?”
Because I like the way the wrappings push the eye up to her face.
I am still not happy with the calibration on this monitor. Today I realize it is a tad contrasty. Seems to be. This is going to drive me nuts. Am right now running VGA and will switch over to DVI cord on the new machine and it was looking contrasty on that as well. Can’t afford one of those expensive calibration meters.
And of course most people don’t even have their monitors calibrated so what they’re seeing on the screen begs the trash can.
Can’t right now check my calibration against a print as my printer is cheap and for some reason now had begun printing all reds and nothing but. But my former monitor was spot on, I know that, though at the end it was getting just a touch darker.
Driving me nuts, I say. Nuts. Bang my head against the wall despairing nuts.