Musings On A Muse

Meet my current muse, the rubber monster finger puppet…

(There are actually too many funny caption ideas for this shot, I couldn't make up my mind...)

I’ve been looking for excuses to paint more hands ever since I did the original “Redivivus” series as a way of exploring the Frankenstein story. (Redivivus means “to come back to life”.) I liked the challenge both of paintings hands (beautiful but tricky) and the idea of creating a portrait that didn’t include a face, or even a body. What kind of tales could I tell with only a disembodied hand that had a cheeky habit of getting loose in the laboratory and going off on various adventures?

Out of this idea was born these four paintings, culminating in the hand eventually finding true love…

"Redivivus (Bitten)" oil on wood panel

"Redivivus (The Secret)" oil on wood panel

"Redivivus (Lucky 7)" oil on wood panel

"Redivivus (The Poet)" oil on wood panel

"Love Is Blind" oil on wood panel

Simply put: I love hands. I really do. I’m fascinated by looking them, apparently I fling mine around quite a lot when I talk, and I always check them out in other people’s art. When I was at the Louvre in October I ended up snapping over fifty pictures just of the hands in various old master paintings…

So when I was asked to do something for the “Taetrum & Dulce” (Creepy & Cute) show at MondoPop Gallery in Rome, Italy, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to revisit the hand and see what it might have been up to. Originally I was going to paint it meeting a little mouse (who would bring the “cute” to the “creepy”), but I needed a stand-in for my reference, so I grabbed this little monster finger puppet and sewed an antique iron key into his rubbery arms with some red thread (otherwise he simply would not hold it properly). Why a key? Because they’re nifty symbols of knowledge, mystery, and curiosity.

But somewhere along the way, as is often the case with art and muses, I realized I didn’t want it to be a mouse anymore. I had kind of fallen in love with the little guy, which is when I decided to wave a magic wand over him like the Blue Fairy in “Pinocchio” and make him a real little monster with proper legs and feet, and let him be the star of the story.

"Redivivus (Ambush)" oil on wood panel

"Redivuvus (Playmate)" oil on wood panel

Muses work all day long and then at night get together and dance.” — Edgar Degas

The show opens next month in Rome, if you happen to be out that way check it out — many fab artists including Nouar, Tiffany Liu, Jana Brike, Edward Robin Coronel, Richard Frost, Buddy Nestor, Charlie Immer, Jason D’Aquino, Macsorro, Jaw Cooper, Julian Callos, Jessica Ward, Apricot Mantle, Felipe Bedoya, Luis Lorenzana, Jittagarn Kaewtinkoy, Dan Barry, Diavù, Nicola Alessandrini, Allegra Corbo, Odö, Sebastien Nassiet Saldubehere aka Malojo, Cesko, Victor Castillo, Morg, Chris Mars, Isabel Samaras, Paola Sala, and Marco About.

“Taetrum & Dulce”
Opens Dec. 10, 2011
MondoPop Gallery
Via Dei Greci 30
Roma, Italy


9 responses to “Musings On A Muse

  1. I love these! There’s so much story there – and so beautiful to look at.

  2. Brilliant. I love looking at your paintings and seeing how your mind works through the story on the canvas. Just fantastic!

  3. Isabel… I think these are wonderful!

  4. Isabel,

    I was just at Mondo Bizarro 2 weeks ago and talked with Cristiano for a while during his Italian-Pop surrealism show. Loved the Louvre too. Went to galerie martel in Paris (equivalent to Mondo Bizarro) and chatted to owner, Rina Zavagli during her R. Crumb exhibit for his new book. Missed him by one day!! Love your hands and lean toward liking “Bitten”.


  5. You are so weird it’s beautiful! LOL I LOVE LOVE LOVE that finger puppet and then you made me love it more when you painted him!!! It’s just amazing how you managed to create stories with just the idea of a hand. You are also completely insane to paint so many hands….they’re SO ridiculously difficult to paint or draw. Therefore I love you even more!


  6. Pingback: weapons of massdistraction › Accept the Mystery

  7. Anytime I look at other paintings and see a badly-rendered hand, I think of your comments… right on, too…

    …those words stay with me and haunt me whenever I draw anything… I try not to be so lazy anymore when it comes to hands… I’m not there, yet… but I keep practicing! ha ha…

    • I could show you some tricks for visualizing how the fingers work — we had a great drawing teacher at Parsons, well okay he was kind of like an Evil Mr. Rogers, but he laid down some serious groundwork for understanding body mechanics and mass that was pretty interesting.

  8. Hi! I absolutely love your art. If you don’t mind I’m using it for my article on ” A blind love story” , I am tagging you and adding your blog link in the due credits 🙂

    Thanks in advance!

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