Inspiration for the interpretation of the card „Art / Temperance”
For illustration of the card „Art / Temperance”, I chose one of my own experiences.
Painting of twins
Painting pictures. My great hobby. I have painted more than one hundred pictures, but it was never how I made my living, even though it has been my dream and I have made some money from selling my paintings. I lacked self-assurance to go into the unknown. I have always believed I could make a living in advertisement and marketing and until recently I really did. Until last year, when advertisement became more sparse and I realized that I had no other choice than to embrace the risk and start painting again. However, that turned out to be the first and a bad idea, because I was just sitting there and didn't paint a thing. Only when I turned it on its head in my mind, that it was a good thing that advertisement went down, because I now had the time and motivation to dedicate myself to painting, it worked. I have to mention I had already worked on my own stuff even before that and I had also made pastel colour portraits of children on commission for money, for my acquaintances. Which brings me to the last painting.
A couple of years ago, my friend had twins. Before that I painted a picture for her colleague of his small son, and so she also asked me to paint her twins. I agreed. However, we had to wait as the babies hadn't yet had their own expressions and they were also dependent on pacifiers for a long time.
When I make a portrait I always take a photograph of the children and then paint them from the picture. Two years went by. “The princesses” were both beautiful blonde girls who by now had their own little personalities. And so it came to a first photo shoot. But they were shy and the main obstacle was the pacifier, which neither of them wanted to put away. In the end, the visit was positive in that we became friends.
After a couple more months my friend called me.
“Jiri, come, the pacifiers are gone and the girls are looking forward to seeing you.”
So I went. It was completely carefree. I was already a friend and so the pictures also were amazing. Now I only had to paint them.
“What do you think?” for the next few months I sat in my studio, looked at the pictures and thought about the composition, what to pick, how to arrange it, but nothing came to me. Only in December last year I took three weeks off work, went to the small house where I have a studio and I started working on the painting. I have to add that it was only once I felt a relaxation, some inner harmony and strength to start working on it.
It took me a week to make a sketch. I chose two photographs where the girls were standing opposite one another and looking down. And there was nothing there. I thought it would be nice to have them look at birds, so I incorporated them into the picture. Then I started to layer the pastel colour. Just to make it clear. If you work with pastel colours, you begin with light colours and shadows and the contours are done at the end. So you cannot see the final version during the process of painting and if you don't paint it precisely, you can ditch the whole painting, because you cannot paint over pastel colour like you can do with oil colours, where you can gradually layer the paint. Moreover, I had to be careful and patient and focus on technique, because it had been a long time since I last painted anything. I made a basic sketch and first started painting the birds, I had never painted them before. After an hour I stepped back and looked at the painting. It was a portrait of birds with the twins in the background. “Well, boy, let's see what you can do now.”
They were moments where I was at the wit's ends, but in the end I managed to finish the painting. I don't want to judge it, but I had a great feeling while I was painting it, the same feeling I had while painting other pictures, when you stop thinking about the real world and you get to an indescribable state and at the end of it you wonder, or at least I do, that it was you who painted it. I don't even know how I was able to do it. And then comes a feeling of pride connected to a certain humility that it must be a gift from “above”.
But that was me and my feelings. I brought the painting to my friend, not knowing what she would think about it. After all, it was my vision of her children. She loved it and it made me happy too. I did it. And that wasn't all. I had the picture framed, gave it to her and they hung it on a wall at home. A phone call came to me:
“Jiri, imagine, the girls want the dress they are wearing in the picture.”
Naturally, the dresses in the picture were simplified and so they couldn't have had them at home. But for me it was the biggest reward. My painting has a soul and that makes it alive.
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