Saturday, August 3, 2013

"Winged Victory of Samothrace" (watercolor on paper; 20" x 14")

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The famous ancient Hellenistic Greek statue at the Louvre Museum in Paris was the inspiration for the painting.  The 2nd-century BC marble sculpture of the Greek goddess Nike (Victory) was created to honor a sea battle.  Since 1884, it has been prominently displayed at the Louvre and is one of the most celebrated sculptures in the world.  Although headless, it conveys a sense of action and triumph.  I cannot imagine it with a beautiful woman's head, just as I cannot think of "Venus of Milo" with arms.  The power of imagination!

I visited the museum back in 1997 during a two-week trip to France with my husband. I was awed by the beauty of a chunk of an ancient marble.  I wanted to paint it and paint it well.  It was particularly challenging project.  The reference photo with a flat, interior lighting didn't give me much value variation.

I crumpled a thin piece (90 lb weight) of watercolor paper, which crackled (damaged) the surface.  A sacrilegious act, but I was going for an unfussy way to suggest the marble texture. The background interior of the museum was pained with minimum details, whereas I carefully punched up the statue as much as I could with the same limited palette.  It is a subtle, blue painting, which is curiously alive.  You can almost feel the breeze caused by the fluttering wings of the goddess, which is about to take off!

The painting was juried into the Art League show in Alexandria, VA in 2006.

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