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The joys of darker days ...

Monday 20/11/17

Debby Faulkner-Stevens

The clocks have changed and it's getting dark very early which means my working day is curtailed somewhat, but things are still getting done and deadlines met, so all is ticking along quite nicely thanks, in no small part, to the LED strip lights in my studio that provide lovely clean light that does not distort colours.

For someone who was born in the middle of the summer, I am quite a winter person and love the cosiness of dark evenings when the curtains are pulled and no excuse is needed to curl up with a book or a box set - preferably a BBC adaptation of a classic novel. We have just been watching Bleak House - a £1 bargain find at a steam rally back in the summer and perfect viewing for November nights ( and infinitely easier to digest than the book, which I battled with for A level English Literature many years ago! )

I have also recently reread a fascinating book I bought a while back after being intrigued by the review in a magazine at the doctor's waiting room.
'Infinite Variety' is the story of the Marchesa Luisa Casati, a most extraordinary woman who said, 'I want to be a living work of art', and who commissioned leading artists of the time - starting in the 1900's - to paint, draw, photograph or sculpt her in all her eccentric glory. Man Ray, Augustus John, Leon Bakst, Cecil Beaton, Epstein, the list goes on and on.
She was dressed by Leon Bakst - costume designer for the Ballets Russes - Paul Poiret, Fortuny, Erte, and in jewels by Lalique. The famous panther brooch by Cartier was inspired by her.
It really is an extraordinary book about an extraordinary life. Here is a taste ...

'Nude servants gilded in gold leaf attended her. Bizarre wax mannequins sat as guests at her dining table. She wore live snakes as jewellery and was infamous for her evening strolls, naked beneath her furs whilst parading cheetahs on diamond studded leashes.
Everywhere she went, she set trends, inspired genius and astounded even the most jaded members of the international aristocracy.
Without question, the Marchesa Casati was the most scandalous woman of her day'.

After an extensive rummage around on the internet, I have discovered a companion volume to the book, available only in America, and promptly dropped a large and unsubtle hint to my husband as the festive season looms.
I am looking forward to a rest from painting over the holiday, and fingers crossed for some inclement weather so I have not the least excuse to get up from the sofa and leave the company of the unique Marchesa who continues to inspire artists and designers to this day.
If one, or several, of my future paintings include a haunting, Medusa like figure with dark ringed eyes, you will know where the inspiration came from ....


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