Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Reliquary: Five Members of the International Midnight Painters' Society

Five Members of the International Midnight Painters' Society
Mixed Media: egg tempera on five panels, 11" high each;
donated objects;
gilded frame made of wood, lace, gesso and clear acrylic
17.6 x 28.5 x 3.6"

More than a year ago, my friend and fellow portrait artist, Teri Anne Scoble, and I decided to form a society for artists who paint late into the night. Through Twitter, we soon gathered together a band of fellow all-hours painters, called ourselves the International Midnight Painters' Society (IMPS), and began the delightful and affirming habit of discussing our work, our technical issues, and anything at all that made us laugh. Suddenly I wasn't alone in my studio. I was surrounded by other artists, many of whom live in places I've never visited.

But the relationship is not merely digital.  Many of us have met in person, and when I was in the UK last fall, I was inspired to create a portrait of five of them. This is the result. It is a reliquary, based on the kind of gilded box that, half a millennium ago, would have held the finger bone of a saint or a piece of a sacred shroud. This reliquary, however, contains the relics of the process of art making.

From left to right, the subjects are Kate Brinkworth, whose relics are pencil shavings, drawing tacks, her grandmother's paint brush, and a fragment of paper from a blending stump; Helen O'Sullivan Tyrrell, whose relic is a piece of her painting apron; Teri Anne Scoble, whose relics are a glitter-smeared brush, a bit of swan's down, a ballet slipper charm, and a tube of watercolour; Gabby Roberts-Dalton, whose relic is a jam jar full of paint medium; and Isobel Peachey, whose relics are a scrap of canvas with colour test marks and a plait of cotton canvas thread.

These are all artists who have made a huge difference in how I see my own work and, perhaps more importantly, where I see myself in the world of artists. I will be forever grateful for their presence in my life.

Reliquary (detail of individual panels)

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