I have always loved this painting — Ingres’ “The Bather of Valpincon” (also known as The Large Bather), which you can oggle in person if you ever find yourself wandering the halls of the Louvre. Clearly Ingres was really taken with it too, since he did several variations (as he did with many of his paintings), including this version about twenty years later —
“The Little Bather in the Harem” — and by golly she turns up again in this painting, “The Turkish Bath” (painted fifty-five years later!).
I’ve always meant to do something with it because a) I really love Ingres, b) the image is just so iconic and c) that back is just a blank canvas screaming for a tattoo. At least that’s what I see when I look at it. So for years I’ve toyed with various ideas (for a while I was this close to painting her as the Bride, replacing the turban with that big shock of hair and a big Frankenstein’s monster tattoo on her back). Never quite got around to it and then the ideas kept shifting. But I finally jumped in and started a piece based on Ingres bather even though I don’t have the tattoo part totally worked out. I could “see” the whole rest of the painting so clearly in my mind that I figured I’d just start — by the time I got to her back an idea would come to me. So when I was at Trader Joe’s the other day I just about dropped my pizza dough when I saw this girl with a fantastic back piece walk by. Having absolutely no shame I asked if I could see it better (and she very obligingly moved her dreads aside) — a terrific, intricate sort of mirror-image tree, very symmetrical and lovely, a Tree of Life. I thought I could adapt it to the subject matter of my painting (which is set in the woods).
Well here’s where the sad part of the story kicks in. Turns out I don’t know how to use the damn camera on my cell phone. I took The Perfect Picture, we all looked at it and saw how great it was, and then I flipped the thing shut and shoved it back into my bag, tra la la, off to make pizza. Who knew that you have to choose to save the stupid things? (Apparently everybody but me, since I get no absolutely sympathy when I tell this story.) In my own defense, I don’t usually take pictures with my phone — I use a camera, which does not require that you choose to save (only to delete). So… the photo was gone and I was crushed. (On the plus side, the pizza turned out great.) Back to the drawing board. Literally.
But now I think that was clearly meant to happen, because whilst bitching and moaning about this episode my friend Andy suggested something really cool to go with the words I wanted to use, then I bugged my friend Cindy for some font ideas, and it all came together like this:
Where would I be without my friends? I’ll post the whole painting as soon as I have a better shot of it. (The finished piece will be on display at the “Dark Pop” show at Last Rites Gallery in NYC next week.)