Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Hanging Woman

You may remember that a little while back I wrote a bit about a painting I'm calling "The Lady", which has to date been the most hour intensive painting I've worked on. (We're at 30+ hours now) You may also remember that I thought I had gone a bit insane because I decided to start painting a second piece at the same time and work on the two in tandem - sort of.

The two were being done while listening to completely different soundtracks and took on two different looks. Lately, the place of emotion where The Lady lives has been a bit too tender for me to willingly go to. It's like a healing wound and working on her right now is sort of akin to picking a scab open. As such, we're taking a break so I can heal up, get my strength back and work on her with full attention instead of a half-assed attempt.

During this break, I focused on her sister who I'm now calling The Hanging Woman. She's so bright and bubbly and full of energy. She's really helped pull me out of that darker place and makes me feel both happy and somehow powerful when I look at her. She's taken a place of prominence in my living room so we can easily connect as often as I need to. Working on her was absolutely a joyful experience, between our musical selections - which ranged from Gogol Bordello to upbeat Indie Pop - and the vibrant colors and energetic movement. I can honestly say that the entire time I worked on this, I was smiling. Or at least smirking in some mischievous way.

It's hard to tell, but there are 17 open eyes nestled in her hair.

For those interested in technicalities, she measures in at an oddball size of 18"x48". She's painted in quite a few layers of acrylics (I lost count at 13), many done in glazes, on Strathmore mixed media paper. A lot of people have asked why I enjoy working on paper, because there are visible seams in all of my paper works. The reason is that as a painting evolves and grows, I'm not constrained to the size of the canvas. I can add more space and let the painting get as big as it likes. In the case of The Hanging Woman, I had originally intended for her to be a single sheet-one shot-quick painting. But when I got to her hair, I desperately wanted to add more paper. So I did. And unlike canvases, these two are connected, so I can move her around and hang her as a single piece. Also, things lined up nicely.

And, I just like working on paper. Dammit. ;)

Here I am with her, for size reference.


  1. Danni she is fucking amazing!! I love the hanging woman! My shrink would love for me to do some art therapy however as amazing as I am with cross stitch I suck ass with drawing and I know cross stitch is art she says she wants me to come out of my comfort zone and draw or paint... any suggestions?

    1. These paintings I've been doing for the past year are WAY out of my comfort zone, as is sharing them. So, I can say for sure that it helps!

      My recommendation if you'd like to get started is to get a small-medium sized book of fairly sturdy paper; pastel paper, mixed media paper or bristol. Make sure you're comfortable with the size - too big can be overwhelming and too small will limit you. Then, get a big box of oil pastels - they don't have to be expensive, just make sure you have a good range of colors.

      Then, just start. With anything - don't think about what you're going to draw or how it will look. Just take your emotion to the paper, grab the first color that jumps out at you and let your hand and mind go. Think of it in terms of meditiation; don't think about the destination, just journey. Work with shapes, scribbles, mixing colors up. As the woman who's helped me get to this point in so many ways likes to remind me: paint (draw) like a 5 year old! Don't worry about how it looks, just let the process lead you.

      And when you're done - it's OK if you hate it. That happens all the time to me. You just don't see it because I'm not brave enough right now to share the shitty stuff. Maybe one day I will be. :) But the best advice I can give is just GO FOR IT. And don't sweat the outcome - enjoy the ride.

      Also, when I do this same exercise I like to leave random notes on the back for myself. Anything from how I was feeling when I did it, what I was listening to, the weather or even quotes that pop in to my head.

      Go for it girl!

  2. I love the Hanged Woman, Danni! Especially her glowing yellow colour and the frog-eye bubbles at the bottom. And I think you're very smart to use paper for your work. Canvas requires a lot of planning and preparation and then restricts you to a very fixed size and shape. Paper is forgiving and flexible.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with the edges of the joined paper being visible, either. I have a large painting that a friend painted on scraps of card that he glued together; there are three or four distinctly visible pieces to it, but it doesn't affect the overall appearance of the painting at all. If you want to minimize the seam, you can take the time to feather off the edge of the upper sheet of paper (by sandpapering from the back) so it blends more smoothly onto the surface below. But that'll slow down your process right at the moment when you don't want it to.

    And Sherry, if you want to see how quickly someone's drawing, painting and overall creative force can develop, you can't do better than to go back through the last few years of Danni's blog. It's been amazing to watch her grow, and you can do it too. It's been a privilege to have you share this with us from the beginning, Danni.


    1. I've often thought about sanding the edges to smooth it out, but I sort of like the seams. Can't quite explain why aside from it makes the whole thing look less sterile and planned, which it most certainly is not!

      Thank you for always being so positive and forthcoming with all of your feedback, it makes me grin like a lunatic to hear that others have seen as much improvement as I like to think there's been. And, it's an honor to share it all with people as lovely and talented as yourself, Wulf. :)

  3. WOW, that is SO cool! I LOVE the idea of working on paper so you can let the piece decides how big it wants to be :) and I love working (on that specific) paper too - this is really an inspiration. Your work is gorgeous and I love the color and the eyes! xo

    1. Isn't mixed media paper the best? I love it so much!


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