Bringing my Ancestor to Life
I am one of those fortunate people to have these great photos of my ancestors. It is more amazing considering I did not know who my birth family was until I was 27 years old because I was adopted. One of the more fascinating ancestors was Mary Jane Morgan Rulofson. She was the sister of my great, great grandmother, Salome Morgan Lincoln Fridley.
In the 1860s-70s, Mary Jane came to work at the studios of the famous Bradley-Rulofson Photography in San Francisco. She ended up marrying her boss, William Herman Rulofson, who was a noted portrait photographer. So, there are some amazing photos of her and her husband's family. They went to Paris in 1878 to exhibit his work which included a life size portrait. Family lore talks about my great-great grandmother Salome having clothes and perfumes from Paris, presumably from her sister and brother-in-law.
William Rulofson hung out with the likes of Ambrose Bierce and wrote a book/pamphlet against the scandal of the waltz called, "The Dance of Death". He ended up "falling off" the roof of his several story studio building in the 1870s and leaving his estate to her. There are testimonials at the time that Mary Jane was very able businesswoman and managed the studio until 1883.
I used Derwent XL graphite and charcoal blocks with a graphite pencil. I think it turned out really well.
Then I used the tool over at Myheritage to animate photos and got some interesting results. I have to say that this was probably the most realistic drawing I have made.
"Smoking Woman in a Green Room"
Yesterday, I finished this piece and spent a while last night just staring at it. Again, I used the layering technique with primer and watercolor ground. At some point the layering had a diminished return, so I may pull back and see if I can get good results with less layering. This piece looks better at a distance than up close. My camera on the iphone 11 is too good.
This is a small piece (4.5" x 4.5") that I did to have some art to put in frames I have that I never got around to using. One of my long term projects is to do art specifically to fill frames. My goal is to fill the cottage with my art.
I picked the color palate that would go with the color palate of my cottage. The accent colors I have are green and orange with colors of reddish brown, grey, beige, black, and cream.
This is the style art I am interested in. I am a huge fan of early 20th century expressionism. I am more interested in conveying a mood, emotion, and interesting subjects.
This is my latest work I finished. This is a result of a favorite technique of using multimedia primer and watercolor ground to layer different mediums like graphite and watercolor underpainting with soft pastels, pastel pencils, graphite block, oil pastel, and acrylic pen. This technique results in really interesting texture like it is on a fresco wall. It also gives it an old school oil painting feel. The green underpainting allows the skin to reflect the background and ambient green and also contributes to the old world painting look.
I tend toward expressionism than hyper-realism since I do not like spending a lot of time on a piece as I get tired of it. I like color and boldness. I want whatever I make to have emotional content. It is more important to make you feel something than to present a realistic depiction. I love chunkiness in my art and I am trying to inch into abstract expressionism, but I am not quite there...yet.
Anais Nin's influence on me has been significant. More than 30 years ago, a close friend gave me one of her Diaries and she blew my mind. Here was a woman deeply stuck in the 20th century living mostly in the beginning and mid century, but more modern than many today. She introduced me to the idea that one can live an artful life. Being fascinated with the period between World Wars, Nin was another figure to know in the vast cast of everyone who lived in the early/mid 20th century.
Video Art: Meet Mabel
It is not enough for me to just animate old or new photos, or my artwork. The next step is to see if I can create new art with it. So, I took an old photo of my great-grandmother, Mabel Parnell Jones Salyer, and gave her butterfly wings. I colorized the photo and uploaded it to the photo animator app. Then, I saved the animation and brought it into Photoshop video editor laying the animation on top. I added shadows on the wings. To me, this had a handmade feel to it and it looks like an intro to a movie.
I added music which is "Life" by Ludovico Einaudi, Daniel Hope, and Virtuosi Italians from the album "In a Time Lapse." It was the perfect song for this.
Sitting back watching this, it occurs to me that I can make components of video art by hand, scan them in, and make them part of a movie.
Animating My Artwork
My friend, Ruben turned me onto a new tool provided by MyHeritage website that animates old photos. It was surreal to animate the faces of old ancestors. My friend sent me one of my artworks animated and it got my gears spinning. This tool gives you about 10 animations, so I put two of my favorite portraits I made through their tool and I am pretty happy with the initial results. I am excited because since I love doing portraits I can actually can create video art.
D.K. Castellucci is an artist living in Marin County who works in oil and soft pastels, charcoal, gouache, and watercolors.