For months I have been painting flowers (daisies) for my show at the LeQuire Gallery in Nashville. That body of work was very cohesive, large paintings with geometric lines and abstract texture fields. That period was very intense; my mind was occupied by daisies; there were daisies everywhere I looked. I felt the need for a change, the need for new inspiration.
Luckily finding new inspiration has never been a problem for me. As I tell my students at the O’More College of Design, one has to observe the things and events in daily life and use those as a source of inspiration for their creations. I have always had a keen interest in fashion and design, and it is no wonder that one day this theme would appear in my paintings.
Two months ago I was glancing through a fashion magazine and was fascinated by the models, how they are photographed in a virtual world created by the photographer. These models were taken out of their own reality and for a moment put in an environment which is not part of their real life. That thought triggered the idea to use these models and replace them in another setting, my imaginative world.
I cut the faces out of the only-a-few-inches photos and enlarge them into oversized copies in dramatic light black-and- white tones. They are now taken out of the environment they were put in. I glue the large faces on canvas and start color painting over them. The light-grey background is ideal for the skin tones. It is sort of a ritual, transforming them completely into the expressions I want to see in my paintings. The surroundings are mostly elements from nature with many flowers, all created out of my imagination. I am guided by the feelings I have at the moment I am painting. Each face brings another color palette into life. Each expression dictates another composition. The result is mysterious; the faces do not laugh but are expressing a rather melancholic mood.
The nature settings are not new to me, as I have been painting imaginary landscapes for years. Sometimes they are leaning towards abstract, sometimes more impressionistic. In this regard my new work is a transition from previous work.
The technique I am using has become my own, developed through many years of practice. I apply layers of paint, scratch away parts, paint another different color layer over it, and so on. Brush strokes are used as a music instrument to convey emotion and rhythm. There are no straight lines; all is created with curved lines resulting in an organic unity. The face is the focal point of the painting; that’s what attracts the viewer’s attention first. The flowers and nature elements fill the painting and are thus as important in completing the composition of the image. Each painting is named after a fictive girl, starting with the letter A, following the alphabet. By using these fictitious names, I emphasize the absence of any personal connection between the faces and myself.
At this point I have no idea yet where or when this new series of paintings will be exhibited.
—Marleen De Waele-De Bock
Marleen De Waele-De Bock is represented by the LeQuire Gallery in Nashville. Her own BelArt Studio/Gallery at #56 in the Arcade in Nashville is open during the First Saturday Downtown Art Crawl.
Follow her on Instagram: Marleen DeBock. On FB: BelArt/Marleen De Waele-De Bock.