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Alphonse Mucha, Where Are You When I Need You?

March 27, 2014

eden wheel1

Carolyn and I have been enjoying quite a conversation these past days on the theme for her new wheel. After many ideas were passed back and forth, we settled on a Garden of Eden theme.  We discussed how the art could carry this theme and decided I would carve a head of Eve to put near the handle – similar to the one I did for the Lady of the Lake wheel last year.  Rather than try to paint the Garden of Eden on the wheels with Eve peeking out from behind a bush somewhere, I requested that I suggest a garden and use an Art Nouveau  style for the entire wheel.  Carolyn wants a wheel with feminine imagery and the graceful curves and flowing lines. This style  of art can really help set the tone for the wheel.  In the photo you can see my original drawing  and above it you can see a couple of days worth of experimenting and changing, hair-pulling, and  exasperation.  All these things are just part of the process – after all artists need to suffer for their art, right?  Behind the wheels you can see some small bottles of metallic powders.  They range from simple gold and silver to exotic interference and iridescent colors.   I used quite a bit of these in this wheel for several reasons.  One is that they are very delicate and sensitive and mysterious, not unlike some women I know.  Look at them one way and you see one thing.  Look from another direction and something entirely different appears.  Look at these wheels one way and the design almost vanishes beneath a film of gold. I felt since none of us has visited the actual Garden of Eden, this suggestive and elusive approach might just work.  Buried under many translucent layers in the outer ring are some flowing lines that vaguely are reminiscent of tree branches or something else organic.  There also flowers all across the ring.  Carolyn loves turquoise, green, and red and so I have worked with those colors as much as this wheel would let me. Just a note:  trying to paint with interference colors with any kind of control is tricky – trying to photograph the result is even trickier!  What you see is only one on many moods!

In the center will go the usual wood hub. My wife found a wonderful vintage brass medallion on Etsy and we ordered it.  Since there is only one of them, I will make a mold and cast two replicas to go in the center of each hub.  The subject is a lady reaching her hand out to a peacock.  Quite pretty.

Usually when someone requests a certain art theme for a wheel and asks if I can do it, my automatic response is “yes.”  Then I have to figure out how I can actually do what I so casually promised to do.  Many times in the past months panic has been lurking at the edges of my mind when I realize, “Man, I don’t know what the heck I’m doing!”Art Nouveau is about the same.  I now know from experience what a master Mucha was with his art.  My goal is not to copy him, but rather to follow in the path he pioneered and perhaps venture into some new territory of my own.  That is what he did and to be honest some of what he created  I don’t think turned out as well as other pieces.  But he learned a lot from the process, I’m sure.  So, I am on my way… now if I can just remember how to spell Art Neauvou – or is it art nouveau…?

  1. I am in awe! Gary, it is beautiful! I love the use of metallics! I love the film of gold! Wow!

    • If you like the picture, you’ll love the real things. They are pretty interesting. Don’t worry, I plan to leave a lot of wood on the frame natural so the wheel won’t be over-powered with painting. Just a bit on the treadles perhaps to tie things together. I’m glad you like it!

  2. I love the colors you are using. Gary you are so amazing.

  3. Sandy permalink

    This is beautiful, Gary. Love the balance of natural wood with the painting and look forward to seeing the wheel with the wood hub.

    • Thank you Sandy. Carolyn noted in a private letter that she felt the inner band looked a bit like folk art to her. I thought about it and it turns out she was completely right. I spent the better part of today modifying that area. Added some more graceful lines and I opened up the dark background with bright light gold patches. So much nicer!

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