Hello everyone and welcome to April! Boy, is this year moving quickly! We’re soundly entrenched in spring, trees are starting to bud, and we’re expecting freezing weather this weekend. I do hope it doesn’t damage our emerging flowers. I’d just finished up my pieces for March’s Art Bead Scene challenge and wanted to share those with you today. The artwork was quintessentially spring:
It’s called, appropriately, “Still Life with Pussy Willows” and was painted by Taisia Afonina in 1964. A member of the Leningrad Union of Soviet Artists, Taisia was a proficient master of landscapes and still life paintings in watercolors and oils. I love still life paintings for their unique juxtaposition of objects. They’re often a collection of eclectic objects that are unified by color or composition and can easily tell a story. This still life emanates with the fresh breath of spring. And it’s a fascinating study in opposites. Soft florals and fuzzy pussy willows contrast with the hard materials of silver, porcelain, and crystal place settings. I liked also how the suffusion of chalky greys and blues plays against the dark browns and navy tones. There’s lots of material here for inspiration.
Here is my necklace. “Tea and Willows” as I call it is a direct interpretation of the painting and I’ve included lots of my favorite aspects. Earlier this year I had received the willow toggle in a bead bundle from my favorite bead artist, Heather Powers of Humblebeads. I knew for sure I wanted to use this in my necklace and worked with it as a toggle for a while, but couldn’t get it to lay properly. I decided to wire in a glass leaf and fasten the toggle permanently closed and use it as a pendant instead. I used dark navy oval beads, silver spacers, and pearls for the body of the necklace to mirror the dominant colors in the painting. I’ve included milky white flowers, a little teapot, and a hand-formed copper leaf as little nods to the objects in the still life. I made a pair of matching earrings, but one of them has disappeared into the ether. I’m starting to worry that there’s a Bermuda triangle over my couch.
This piece, “Pussy Willow Spray”, was imagined in that time between sleep and wakefulness when I was thinking about balled copper wire and suddenly realized that it would look like pussy willows. As soon as I had a chance, I balled several lengths of wire, patinated them with liver of sulfur, and painted the little protuberances with pearl white paint. I fashioned them into a simple bundle and made it into a brooch. I had originally wanted to use it in a necklace, but couldn’t think how to do that. I’ll ponder on it. In the meantime, I thought a spray of willows on a coat lapel was deliciously old-fashioned and elegant – just like the still life.
Blessings to you,