How are ideas conceived? Where does inspiration spring from?
Well the idea and inspiration for this painting, ‘The Lovers’ I owe to a work entitled ‘The Wedded’ painted in 1882 by Lord Fredric Leighton (1830 – 1896).
Leighton’s grandfather was principal physician to the Russian royal family. He became wealthy and his fortune allowed his grandson the means to pursue a career as an artist.
Fredric Leighton became successful. His first painting was bought by Queen Victoria. And although he never married (rumour and conjecture about his sexuality) he was, later in life, ennobled.
My journey, with this particular work, began with the discovery of a rock-hewn vista with cascading water. It grabbed my attention and I figured that it might just be the foundation or starting point for a new painting.
I must have planned and compiled a dozen or more variations in Photoshop. Each utilising this particular landscape as the background to which I added an assortment of characters in the hope that I might conjure up that – Ahh! – moment when all the ducks line up and you realise that cor’ blimey you‘ve cracked it!
Problem was, although all the ducks lined up, I didn’t get that – Ahh! – moment. Then I remembered Freddie Leighton and everything fell into place.
Leighton was principally a Pre-Raphaelite. In ‘The Wedded’ his focus of attention is a young couple locked in embrace which he paints in a style that replicates Renaissance ideology and romanticism.
137 years have elapsed between his painting and mine. The major difference being that Freddie had the talent, the success and the money whereas I, by contrast, possess only one of the three!
Oh well, life’s a journey, just remember to pack a change of underwear!
So, to fit the parameters of my chosen canvas, I tore the landscape background apart and re-assembled it then set about finding ‘the couple’ who would be the principal focus in my picture.
Back in Freddie Leighton‘s time he would have hired models and props but in the 21st. Century that’s no longer possible. Too expensive.
So, my couple are drawn together from different heads, bodies, limbs and costume paraphernalia in the same way a Frankenstein-like surgeon would stitch together their creatures. And like the good doctor I hope mine, at least in the eye of the beholder, become animated and live!
I had toyed with the notion, again following the Pre-Raphaelite tradition, of naming both the couple and the painting ‘Laviticus and Cordelia.’
But felt more at ease calling the work ‘The Lovers’ in the firm belief that one day their union and my success will be consummated.
Acrylic on Canvas
91.5 cms Width x 101.6 cms depth
The Other Art Fair, Melbourne 2019
SWISSARTEXPO, Zurich 2019