A corner of my hard drive holds
hundreds of photographs taken by an American called Vivian Maier. For decades she worked as a
nanny around Chicago but led a quietly obsessive life taking more than 150,000
photographs. She hoarded the unproduced rolls of films along with her
lifetime's possessions in storage. When she couldn’t pay the storage bills her
stuff auctioned and her thousands of photos documenting 1940-50s American
street life came to light.
walked the streets snapping anything that appealed - a discarded doll (minus
the head), a squashed pigeon, sleeping tramps, naked mannequins, etc. She took
one of a woman with big skull-crushing thighs stood next to a car. The
photograph is in black and white but with oil paints I could add colour. Here
started this in the lounge, drawing out the basic shapes with washy acrylic
paint. The sense of proportion was fine enough for me to start. As usual I
filled in the colours with quick-drying acrylics and - happy with that -
followed with oil paints. What is the woman doing? Is she considering how she's
going to get those wondrous thunder thighs into that small car? Is she admiring
it? Is she perhaps watching a bird that is eating a chip on the roof?
not a keen fan of blue and brown together but I used these shades on the car
and the lady' skirts. I didn't expect them to blend well but they dwelled
together quite well. I pressed on and moved up into my bedroom to carry out. Thinking
that pavement rather featureless I was about to add a tiny poodle or shih tzu but decided not to in deference to Vivian's photograph.
died penniless and in obscurity aged 83 and was buried in some bushes where
she'd let her charges run around and pick wild strawberries. A private person I
doubt she'd have favoured the vortex of publicity that her photographs have brought.
She'd provided subjects for me though - I think this is the third or four
painting I've done based on one of her photographs.
may have swatted a big bee on your bedroom wall and the red and black stain
ingrained in the flock wallpaper may need covering up. This painting would be
ideal. You could hang it on your wall for £18,442 and some days even have it
facing the room. Let me know your address and tomorrow I'll posted it off to
you after I've been to the Royal Chronic Flatulence and Diarrhoea Clinic.