Portrait painter Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun

Thanks to Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun exhibition in Paris, I have discovered the work of this artist. Before, I mainly knew her portraits of Queen Marie-Antoinette.

Self Portrait with Cerise Ribbon circa 1782 by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun

Self Portrait with Cerise Ribbon circa 1782 (click the pictures to enlarge)

Her life could have been the subject of a novel. Her father was a pastellist and she started drawing as she was very young. She painted many portraits and finally was recommended to French queen Marie-Antoinette. She soon became Marie-Antoinette official painter.

Marie-Antoinette en chemise vers 1783 par Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun

Marie-Antoinette wearing a nightshirt circa 1783. This painting was criticized because people found disrespectful to show the queen wearing a nightgown.

Marie-Joséphine Louise de Savoie, , Countess of Provence in a nightdress in 1782 by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun

Marie-Joséphine Louise de Savoie, Countess of Provence and King Louis XVI’s sister-in-law in 1782 (she was wearing a nightdress too)

During the French Revolution broke out, being close to Marie-Antoinette became risky. Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun fled France with her daughter and travelled through Europe. Her reputation and her social skills helped her to fit in different European courts. She earned a living painting high society and celebrities. In her paintings, I found people who were also in history books.

Vigée Le Brun revealed the personality of her models by playing with poses, backgrounds, she represents some characters with a rose, a book or a a sheet of music. But her paintings have in common a form of softness.

Isabella Teoto chi Marini in 1792 by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun

Isabella Teoto chi Marini in 1792. This painting was for Dominique Vivant Denon, Isabella’s lover.

Princess Karoline Felicitas Engelberte von und zu Liechtenstein in 1793 by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun

Princesse Karoline Felicitas Engelberte von und zu Liechtenstein in 1793

At that time, painting replaced photography. Portraits were also used to become better known and to look good. And Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun was a master in the art of photoshopping making her models look beautiful.

In addition to portraits, Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun painted a lot of family paintings and child portraits.

Jeanne Julie Louise Le Brun looking at herself in a mirror in 1787 by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun

Jeanne Julie Louise Le Brun looking at herself in a mirror in 1787. This painting shows Vigée Le Brun dear daughter.

Alexandrine Emilie Brongniart in 1788 by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun

Alexandrine Emilie Brongniart in 1788

What is interesting too is the evolution of hairstyles and outfits as fashions was changing, such as those two portraits that were painted 30 years apart.

Comtesse de la Châtre circa 1789 by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun

Comtesse de la Châtre circa 1789

Tatiana Borssovna Potemkina circa 1820 by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun

Tatiana Borssovna Potemkina circa 1820

Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun wished she were a history painter, the most prestigious category at the time, and she would paint historical and mythological scenes but moral used to forbid women to paint naked men. It didn’t prevent her from making paintings inspired by Mythology such as this painting of Lady Hamilton as a bacchante.

Lady Hamilton as a bacchante dancing in front of Vesuvius in 1792 by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun

Lady Hamilton as a bacchante dancing in front of Vesuvius in 1792

Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun was allowed to come back to France by Napoléon. She painted portraits and drew pastel landscapes until an advanced age.

For more information:

* Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun exhibition in Paris website

* You can still attend Vigée Le Brun exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, Canada until September 11, 2016

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8 illustrators I follow on the Internet

I like to visit the blogs or instagram accounts of my favorite illustrators, discover their latest drawings and sometimes the making of illustrations. So here is a totally subjective selection of illustrators to follow:

* Isabelle Oziol de Pignol (Accro de la mode)

Isabelle Oziol de Pignol was a fashion designer before becoming an illustrator. You can check her drawings of stylish women on her blog or on her instagram.

screenshot of Accro de la mode blog

Screenshot of Accro de la mode website. Click the image to enlarge

Her blog: http://www.accrodelamode.com/

Her instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/isabelle_oziol_de_pignol/

* Yelena Bryksenkova

Yelena Bryksenkova has a dated and mysterious world and great attention to detail.

Screenshot of Yelena Bryksenkova blog

Screenshot of Yelena Bryksenkova website

Her blog: http://ybryksenkova.blogspot.com/

Her instagram account: https://instagram.com/ybryksenkova/

* Katie Rodgers (Paper Fashion)

Paper Fashion blogger Katie Rodgers draws poetic silhouette wearing sequined gowns. On her instagram page, there are also making-of videos of her drawings.

Screenshot of Paper Fashion blog

Screenshot of Paper Fashion website

Her blog: http://paperfashion.net/

Her instagram account: http://instagram.com/paperfashion

* Danny Roberts

Fashion illustrator Danny Roberts made himself known via his blog Igor and Andre. His blog has been a little abandoned and his drawings of pink-cheeked models are now displayed on instagram.

Screenshot of Danny Roberts instagram

Screenshot of Danny Roberts instagram page

His blog: http://www.igorandandre.com/blog/

His instagram account: http://instagram.com/dannyroberts

* Chloé Fleury

Chloé Fleury creates images and characters using cut and folded paper. On her blog, she writes about her work and her life in San Francisco.

Screenshot of Chloé Fleury blog

Screenshot of Chloé Fleury website

Her blog: http://blog.chloefleury.com/

Her instagram account: https://instagram.com/chloefleury/

* Fifi lapin

Fifi lapin is a fashion blog that shows Fifi’s outfits in drawings. Its specificity is that Fifi is the only rabbit who is wearing Haute Couture.

Screenshot of Fifi lapin blog

Screenshot of Fifi lapin website

Her blog: http://fifi-lapin.blogspot.com/

Her instagram account: https://instagram.com/fifi.lapin/

* Meera Lee

Meera Lee has a personal and joyful universe that combines flowers, animals, calligraphy and colorful patternes.

Screenshot of Meera Lee instagram

Screenshot of Meera Lee instagram page

Her instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/meeraleepatel/

* Garance Doré

Garance Doré’s blog is well-known especially for her streetstyle pictures. Between two photoshoots, she still publishes her illustrations of women with unfinished outlines.

Screenshot of Garance Doré blog

Screenshot of Garance Doré website

Her blog’s illustrations category: http://www.garancedore.fr/en/category/illustrations/

Voilà! And you, do you follow any illustrators on social networks?

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It rains in my heart

Following on from my series of illustrated poems, I have drawn a melancholic woman whom the poem ‘It rains in my heart’ by French poet Paul Verlaine evokes for me.

Drawing of a melancholic woman to illustrate the poem 'It rains in my heart' by Verlaine

Drawing inspired by a picture by Brent

It rains in my heart
As it rains on the town,
What languor so dark
That soaks to my heart?

Oh sweet sound of the rain
On the earth and the roofs!
For the dull heart again,
Oh the song of the rain!

It rains for no reason
In this heart lacking heart.
What? And no treason?
It’s grief without reason.

By far the worst pain,
Without hatred, or love,
Yet no way to explain
Why my heart feels such pain!

Paul Verlaine, Il pleure dans mon coeur (translation by A. S. Kline)

A metal beam turned into a work of art by Keith Haring

The following pictures show several views of a several meter long metal beam with a Keith Haring drawing. The american artist is well known for his stylized figures who look like road signs figures. He drew on all kinds of surfaces: on tarpaulins, walls, vases or here on a metal beam.

Keith Haring, Beam, 1982

On this marker drawing, figures are running to escape barking dogs. They are fleeing but at the same time they are laughing in the face of danger: some figures are turning cartwheels and other are giving a high five.

Keith Haring, Beam, 1982

In my mind it could evoke street artists fleeing the polive, given that Keith Haring started his career by drawing on subway advertising panels in New York and he was several time arrested by the police. However this work of art is untitled so it is open to interpretation.

Keith Haring, Beam, 1982

Keith Haring used symbols. The simple figure has no distinguishing feature. He represents the human being in general. The barking dog represents an oppressor. That being said, Keith Haring never gave the keys to his visual language so that people can see what they want in it.

You can admire this decorated beam and many other works of art at the exhibition “Keith Haring The political line” in Paris until August 18 2013. I have found this exhibition very interesting. It evokes New York art scene in the eighties and shows that Keith Haring was a committed artist. Indeed he expressed himself on racism, oppression by state and religion, fear of a nuclear war and aids that was decimating New York gay community at that time. Before this exhibition I didn’t know that Keith Haring colorful and happy drawings also tackled darker and more complex subjects.

For more information:

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What is poetry according to Alfred de Musset

(In answer to the question, “what is poetry?”)

To range all memory and to fix all thought ;
To hold it poised in balance on a beam of gold,
Uncertain, tremulous, yet all immovable;
To eternalize one moment’s reverie ;
To love and seek the true, the beautiful;
To sing, to laugh, to weep, without much cause;
To make of sigh, of word, of smile, of look,
A work exquisite, full of grace and charm;
To fashion from a tear a lustrous pearl:
These are the fond desires of poet’s heart;
These are his wealth, his life, and his ambition’s

Alfred de Musset
in The complete writings of Alfred de Musset, translated by George Santayana, Emily Shaw Forman, Marie Agathe Clarke.

drawing of the poet who converts his tears into pearls

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Victoria and Albert Museum’s colorful glass chandelier

These days, I’m searching a beautiful ceiling light. Actually, I have already found my dream chandelier but the problem is that it’s 9 meters high.

drawing of Victoria and Albert Museum's yellow and blue glass chandelier by Dale Chihuly

It’s a glass sculpture with interwoven yellow and blue tentacles by artist Dale Chihuly. This wild chandelier adorns the entrance dome of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. I just find it great.

For more information:

Dale Chihuly website

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A melancholic public garden

I have drawn a view of a public garden in Nice, in the French Riviera. I think it is both beautiful and sad with an old knobbly tree with tangled branches in the foreground and behind it the statue of a huddling woman.

The melancholic side of the scene reminds me the spleens by poet Charles Baudelaire. I have read again The Flowers of Evil and found a few lines from the poem The Mask that describe what my drawing tries to express:

drawing of a melancholic public garden in Nice

— O sad great beauty! The grand river, fed
By your rich tears, debouches in my heart.
Though I am rapt with your deceptive art,
My soul is slaked upon the tears you shed.

And yet why does she weep? Such peerless grace
Could trample down the conquered human race.
What evil gnaws her flank so strong and sleek?

She weeps because she’s lived, and that she lives.
Madly she weeps for that. But more she grieves
(And at the knees she trembles and goes weak)
Because tomorrow she must live, and then
The next day, and forever — like us men.

Charles Baudelaire, excerpt from the poem The Mask (in Roy Campbell’s Poems of Baudelaire)

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To a Woman Passing By

This week, the subject of Illustration Friday website is mysterious. I have searched what it could evoke me and soon the poem “To a Woman Passing By” by French poet Baudelaire has started resonating in my head. I have drawn my vision of this poem. On a Paris street, at the very moment the poet’s eyes meet the captivating eyes of a stranger, he falls in love.

mysterious passer-by

To a Woman Passing By

The deafening road around me roared.
Tall, slim, in deep mourning, making majestic grief,
A woman passed, lifting and swinging
With a pompous gesture the ornamental hem of her garment,

Swift and noble, with statuesque limb.
As for me, I drank, twitching like an old roué,
From her eye, livid sky where the hurricane is born,
The softness that fascinates and the pleasure that kills,

A gleam… then night! O fleeting beauty,
Your glance has given me sudden rebirth,
Shall I see you again only in eternity?

Somewhere else, very far from here! Too late! Perhaps never!
For I do not know where you flee, nor you where I am going,
O you whom I would have loved, O you who knew it!

Charles Baudelaire (translation by Geoffrey Wagner)

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Aboriginal graffitis in Vancouver

Vancouver is not covered in tags still street art is present there. The City Hall has a project that enables graffiti-artists to paint a few authorized walls. In Vancouver, you find the same kind of graffitis as in other big cities but there are a few graffitis that stand out because they are directly influenced by art created by First Nations of the Pacific Coast of Canada. You can recognize the stylized patterns typical of indigenous art. This article features a few of those Vancouverite graffitis. Tangled figures and fantastic animals tell First Nations legends. You can click on the pictures to enlarge them.

The first photo shows a abandoned shop window. The graffiti depicts a bird. I would say that it is an eagle from its curved beak. The drawing style and the choice of colors (white, black and red) are characteristic of the First Nations of the Pacific Northwest’s iconography. For them, the eagle represents power and wisdom.

indigenous graffiti showing a bird in Vancouver

Graffiti located at Broadway and Fraser Street

The left part and the right part of this other graffiti could represent the sun and the moon. The central part is truncated but you can recognize a fish. Its head is at the top and its tail at the bottom. I think it’s an orca because of its teeth. Native peoples see orca as the animal that reigns over the sea.

indigenous graffiti showing the sun, the moon and a fish in Vancouver

Graffiti located at Pacific Street and Seymour Street
photo Kyle Pearce (c) Creative Commons

The last graffiti which is situated under Granville Bridge is more difficult to decipher due to the tangle of the characters.
On the bottom right-hand corner, it is written “… and the raven brought the light into the world”. This sentence evokes a legend of the Haida people which tells that the raven has created the world but a dark world because it lacks light. Light belongs to an old man who keeps it locked up in a box. So the raven steals light to the old man and with this light he creates the sun, the moon and the stars.
We can see a big raven on the picture: its head is on the right and there is a bird’s foot at the bottom. However I am not able to find any trace of the sun. On the left there is a face that doesn’t look happy. Maybe it’s the old man, furious to have his light stolen?

indigenous graffiti showing the legend of the raven who creates the world and later the sun, the moon and the stars in Vancouver

Graffiti located under Granville Bridge at 4th Avenue

Don’t hesitate to leave a comment if you have difficulty spotting the characters… or if you find the sun on the last picture.

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