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Posts tagged ‘Sacre Coeur’

Autobiographical Mobile: The finished article

C’est fini! At last, my autobiographical mobile is complete! Started in June last year and completed right at the end of April of this year, the maths alone dictates that this has been a long project in the making. While my blog account of the work has been posted in respect of 25 full days of painting, a great number of evenings and hours grabbed in otherwise hectic weeks have been spent working on this piece, one of the most comprehensive projects of my art career so far. Yet the protracted length of the project (augmented by the fact I work full-time and have been undertaking a whole host of other artistic projects in the meantime) has also been one of its benefits – feeling no rush, I managed to achieve a more perfected finish on each of the areas I was working on, and likewise, owing to the passage of time, the painting has become something of a developing story in itself – a true artistic reflection of the changing circumstances of my life.

Autorretrato (Autobiographical Mobile) 2013 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas

Autorretrato (Autobiographical Mobile) 2013 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas

And how it looked on the first day of painting

And how it looked on the first day of painting

I have extrapolated upon most of the details in the painting in former posts explaining my progress, however in very brief terms, the painting is an autobiographical self-portrait told through symbols and metaphors rather than a head and shoulders portrait. At the centre of the canvas, a large free-standing mobile, in the style of the great mobile-artist Alexander Calder, represents my life. At its base, my constant companions, Fluffy and Bilbao, teddies given by my Partner and me to one another shortly after we first started dating, represent the very consistent, anchoring and significant role of our relationship in my life. Then above, the mobile acts as an autobiography balancing out the various positives and negatives in my life so far. DSC07673 On the left: the positives – all the stuff I love and which has helped to shape me into the person I am today. First up, Spain and art history, symbolised through the iconic image of one of Span’s master-artist’s Infanta portraits, whose dress is in turn decked out to resemble the sandy colours of a Spanish bull ring, while her sunglasses represent Spanish tourism, the industry which has been so important in bolstering the economy of modern day Spain. DSC07623 DSC07619Next, the symbol of enlightenment and creative/ academic success: This is a Norm-shaped lightbulb decked out in a graduation mortar-board and holding a graduation scroll. This hybrid Norm/ bulb character represents my achievements both as an illustrator-blogger and as a lawyer, and stands for the importance of learning and development in my life. Further along, the egg: This is a representation of my art career, and also my love of Paris (where I was engaged and from which I have been inseparable for at least 15 years). Paris was the inspiration for my first major painting, Le Paris Formidable, a creation which I consider to be a milestone in my artistic career and the moment I began to take painting seriously. In that image I painted the Sacre Coeur church as a series of eggs and egg cups (the white domes of the basilica reminding me of eggs), while plunging into the egg, an egg soldier is replaced by a French baguette, held up by a rosary, representing that for me, art is like my religion. DSC07613 Finally in the positives, a sun cream bottle represents my love of travel, and spurting from it, a representation of my love of gastronomy as shown through a mixed and bounteous flow of prawns, marie rose sauce, chorizo, strawberries and wine, all combined together through a meandering strand of spaghetti which in itself metamorphoses from the Fortnum and Masons hamper sat on a rock below it – the hamper representing my love of the finer things in life. DSC07617 Onto the negatives, and up first my 2008 accident – the life-changing event was informed so much of my art and altered my life, both physically and mentally forever. DSC07624 Then the death of my career at the self-employed bar, a hugely difficult time when I suffered stress close to mental breakdown, prejudice, bullying and was effectively cast out of the profession because of the small-minded prejudices which come of a profession in which survival, without fitting into the Oxbridge stereotype (the blue snakes), is all but impossible. DSC07630 Then the birdcage, a symbol of entrapment, both for my sister trapped by the grave fate which arose upon the death of her husband leaving her to bring up three toddlers alone, and for me in my career. DSC07634 Finally the Apprentice – a direct reference to another of my paintings, Nicholas in the Renaissance, a tongue-in-cheek self-portrait in which I parodied a depiction of Saint Sebastian to represent the injustices I felt I had suffered when I appeared in the acclaimed BBC television series, The Apprentice series 4. The sugar cube of course alludes to Lord Sugar, the famous business man for whom the “Apprentices” seek to work under the television format. DSC07645 Meanwhile in the foreground, an expanse of water separates my current life from my childhood, albeit only marginally, and that youth is symbolised my a self-standing rock in the bottom right of the canvas representing my family, a symbol which took on a whole new poignancy when my brother-in-law was killed last December. Meanwhile, in the rock pools to the left, also representative of my childhood, the smallest of shells represents the heady days of my youth when climbing over coastal rocks I would collect shells, affixing them onto little snails I had modelled which I would then sell at local fairs. Some could say it was the start of my art career. They were certainly formative years. DSC07582 DSC07648 DSC07610 So there we have it, my life on a large (120cm x 120cm) canvas in oil paint. I’m awfully proud of this painting, and also glad to have persevered over such a protracted period. The result is a truly reflective glimpse of my life as it stands and also acts for me as a kind of closure on all that is past. Now I look forward to a whole new chapter of my life, with all the artistic expression which will inevitably go hand in hand alongside it.DSC07661 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Autobiographical Mobile: My painting diary – Day 18: My Art and my Paris

I couldn’t be much more passionate about the second of my painted “favourite things” if I tried. The next metaphor of my life’s great loves to make it onto my latest large canvas – my Autobiographical Mobile – is Art, and Paris.

Paris was the city that made me who I am today. It started on a school trip, when my teacher led me, her hands covering my eyes, into the Place du Tertre atop the Butte de Montmartre, and quickly uncovering them, revealed a scene of such lavish character, such indubitable gyrating ecstatic energy and historical charm that I fell in love. My heart dropped to the cobbled paving beneath my feet, and has stayed in the heart of Montmartre, beating there ever since. Now, when I plug myself into the city on an almost annual basis, I cannot help but swarm mesmerised around the quaint streets, meander around the boutique-lined boulevards, and lounge like a flaneur outside the street cafes and in leafy parks, gazing in never-ending admiration at the beauty of the urban landscape around me.

Le Paris Formidable (2000, acrylic on canvas) © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown

Le Paris Formidable (2000, acrylic on canvas) © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown

With Paris came Art. For not only does the city ooze creativity from its every crack and surface, but it has also inspired some of the most illustrious artists in recent art history. As well as the slightly less illustrious ones, like me. While I had been painting for some years, the real turning point of my career, when I went from doodles and watercolours to large scale canvases, was when at the age of 16 I embarked on one of my greatest projects, and still my second biggest canvas ever, Le Paris Formidable.

Le Paris aimed to show my beloved Paris from various unusual standpoints, and one of my favourite images was my depiction of the Sacre Coeur, the church atop Montmartre, as a series of eggs in egg cups and split open lavishing the surrounding blue canvas with their eggy contents. The image spoke both of the architectural charisma of this multi-domed church, as well as the inherent fragility of a 21st century Catholic Church. In one dome in particular, a French baguette plunged into the waiting yolky contents like an egg soldier, but also the body of Christ, while his blood, the wine, was represented by the main dome upturned like a communion chalice.

The real thing…

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In this new painting I have replicated the egg soldier image, but with some extra frills. Both parts of the egg, and the baguette, are connected to the mobile by what looks like rosary beads, but whose religious imagery is replaced by symbols of Paris – the iconic Eiffel Tower proclaiming that Art and Paris are my ultimate passion: My Religion.

My progress

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The finished image

The finished image

I find it particularly satisfying to compare both this egg and the egg of my 16 year old self – a first great painting, when my untrained skills we still naive. My skills now (although still untrained) have improved, and I feel confident in my ability to better understand light and shadow and dimension so much better than 13 years ago. Yet the idea of my 16 year old self – the Sacre Coeur as eggs – is almost surprisingly impressive to me, innovation which my adult self may struggle to come up with, but which works so well now in this revolution of my art – art revisited for this autobiographical expression of my life, on canvas.

...and the 2000 image

…and the 2000 image

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.