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A Jury of Your Pyrs: The View from the Dock

I could not resist the word play.   I have the greatest respect for the courts of Great Britain and no slur is meant.  I don’t think they are going to the dogs.   If you’d like to read about my background research you can read the post Inspiration from the English Courts.

News update:   My Muse Calls and A Jury of Your Pyrs has been blogged about on Law Actually!

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Inspiration from the English Courts

Inspiration can come from many sources.  Lately we have been watching two rather old British shows about the legal profession, Rumpole of the Bailey and Kavanagh Q.C.  The occupation of Barrister dates back to the fifteen century in the Commonwealth Countries of England.  I love the wigs they wear and the language they use. For instance the judge is always addressed formally as “My Lord”.    As I watched them in their floppy white wigs I could not but think they looked a bit Pyr like.  And my muse started nudging.   Here are a couple of pictures so you can tell me what you think.  I found the one for Rumpole of the Bailey on google pictures and the one of Kavanagh is from the website http://presentinenglish.com/what-we-can-learn-from-barristers  and it has an excellent article there as well.  If anyone wants me to acknowledge their pictures or take them down just make a comment and I will comply.  The shows are very old so I am having a problem tracking down whether they have been freely released into the public domain or not.

So without further ado, here is Rumpole.

And here is Kavanagh QC

 

 You can see the accused sitting in the dock with the metal spikes sticking up behind him.

 

 

 

 

The English courtroom is also set up very differently than the American one.  The judge sits at the front and faces across the room toward the back a raised “dock” where the accused sits.  This is in contrast to how the accused sits next to his counsel in an American courtroom.  There are separate benches or boxes with tables to one side where the counsel will sit.   And of course a jury box and a witness box.  Different courtrooms have slightly different set ups.  Some English cases are only argued in front of a judge or judges.  

The other unique thing is that your lawyer or counsel does not directly argue your case in front of the judge.  A specialist called a Barrister does that.  And the best of the best Barristers are known as taking the “silk”, as they wear special silk robes and the title of Queen’s Counsel or Q.C.  Hence the Q.C. in Kavanagh, Q.C.

The judges also look wonderful in a variety of robes and wigs.  Here is Lord Alverstone from a 1913 Vanity Fair in full regala.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And a here is Sir James Eyre 1734-1799, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas.  The painting is by Lemuel Francis Abbot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Bailey, London’s central criminal court, dates back to 1673 and has been renovated a number of times.  Here is an artistic rendering of one of it’s court rooms in 1809 rendered by Augustus Pugin and Thomas Rowlandson. The nickname old Bailey was derived from the street it is located on, which was conveniently next to Newgate Street which housed Newgate Central Prison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t believe the English Courts allow photographs during it’s sessions.  That is why I turned to art. 

So you can see how I was inspired.  So coming soon, a picture of Pyrs in an English Courtroom.   Pyrs and Peers, how may plays on those words can you make?  One of them is the title of my painting.

Special thanks to Wikipedia and Creative Commons for aiding the dissemination of information and images.

Factoid:  English Court:  Where the Queen is, English Courts: Where the Lawyers are.

If you are sad this post ended and want to go on reading here are a few fun links.

Charon QC ” He awarded himself the title QC when the Lord Chancellor suspended the award for real lawyers. Now, as no-one can instruct him in any matter, or would wish to, he is free to comment as he wishes on matters which catch his attention. He is, of course, a figment of a febrile imagination ”    He gets into a number of current and interesting topics in English law.

The Magistrate’s Blog Musings and Snippets from an English Magistrate

The Anonymous Assistant A real lawyer writes a fictionalized account of the happenings in a City Law Firm.    

Law Actually “He’s been described, on occasions, as a typically deranged law graduate, with a poor taste in blogging and too much spare time on his hands.”   It’s actually pretty good.

OK people….still here?…..http://www.google.com/.  G’nite.

 

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Garden Play

I have always been an avid gardener.   In the spring I love to start by filling colorful pots on my deck with fresh plants from our local garden centers.  When Tila was a puppy, I was happily potting away, turned my back for a moment and found my puppy in a whirl of lavender plants.   In reality, there was only one plant de-potting puppy, but in this painting I thought it was more fun to have two.

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Artist without an Adjective

Yesterday I posted another of my paintings on Facebook for my friends to see.   I was actually called “an artist”!  I can embrace that.    I have been reading about art and artists.  Most artists have an adjective associated with their name.  There are “great” painters such as Titian and Rembrandt, there are “pop” painters such as Warhol, there are impressionist, modern, folk, deconstructionist, reconstructionist, and some just bad or crazy painters.  The list obviously goes on and on.

I haven’t earned any adjective yet.   And I think that can be a good thing. 

 

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The Pyr in the Moon

In my imagination, Pyrs have a secret life at night we don’t know about.  They hear the conversation of owls and mice, smell the scent of moonbeams, and more.   This painting came out of that part of my imagination. 

A little Pyr puppy wakes in the dark of night and is frightened by the shadows and the sounds.  His mother comforts him with “Don’t be afraid of the dark, the Pyr in the moon will watch over us.  

 And look very carefully at the moonlight that comes in the window!   It lights part of the wood floor and lights the Pyrs up in its beam subtlety changing the colors of the rug as well.  I worked very hard on that!

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Moonlight Play-Glazing techniques.

 
Glazing with Walnut Alkyd Medium

I had an idea, a dream of a painting I could see clearly in my mind.  A little Pyr puppy who was woken up at night by the light of the full moon and decided to play.  I picked up my brush and realized I had no idea on how to paint light.  Light is hard.  So I read up on glazing.  That is what the great painter Vermeer used and many other great Masters to show light and make their paintings glow.  Me, I’m starting with the basics.

First take a large serving of patience.  Glazing involves using transparent paints and a special alkyd medium (I used walnut alkyd oil) to dilute the paint.  Then after putting a thin light layer, you must let that layer dry before you can do anything else!  That’s right….a few brushstrokes and ..come back tomorrow.  Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock sigh.

So in the painting below I only used red, yellow, blue and white.   I wanted the hand to look like ghostly moonlight.  First I painted the hand white and the red bar at one side and the top stripe of yellow.  Then I painted the square over the hand a dilute blue and then a dilute red and I got purple.   Then I painted the stripes at the side.   Then I pained the hand a light yellow (my original yellow mixed with a little white).  Of course I had to let everything dry in between and then the red heart and the blue paw.  Where the paw overlaps the red it is a dark purple, where it over laps the yellow hand it is blue.  The same with the other colors.  The paint that is used is classified as transparent or semi-transparent and it is diluted with walnut alkyd oil medium rather than linseed oil or turpentine.

 

I like to paint wet over wet where you paint with layers of wet paint over other layers of wet paint.  Sometimes I wait to let a layer dry so I can have a pure color and it won’t mix with the under-layers of paint.

But glazing you have to let each layer dry.  But it is worth it.  The next layer you put on, like putting one pane of stained glass over another, is blended by your eye to give you a new color, and more depth and luminosity.  You really need to see the result with your eye on the canvas because it doesn’t photograph well. 

So I did two somewhat abstract designs, Hearts and Paws, and Hands, Hearts, and Paws.   I used only three colors, red, blue, yellow and white.   Any other colors you observe is what you eye sees after one layer of one color is laid over the dry layer of another color. 

So finally, I had the technique to do moonlight.

And here is my little Pyr at Moonlight Play.

 I am now working on the largest canvas I have ever used.  It is 18 inches by 24 inches.  It has a theme again of Pyrs in moonlight.  I hope to make the moonlight in the next one a little less intense yellow and make it look a little more like real light rather than a “beam me up Scotty” Star Trek beam.   Getting better takes practice and trying new things.  But it’s fun to branch out.

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The Mayor of Malta

Dan and I honeymooned in Malta.  It’s a wonderful island country in the Mediterranean with a rich history that my history buff husband loved.  It also had a neolithic cult where they had many statues and temples to ..I have to say..fat women…hugely obese richly voluptuous women. Goddesses of fertility it is proposed.  It’s no secret that I’ve never been twiggy and don’t want to be.  So being on an island where they once worshiped women of my proportion and larger (I say bring back the cult) was really up my alley too.  That women could be worshiped for all they were mentally, physically, spiritually appeals to me, rather than how advertising approves women on a basis of lack of bodily mass.  Both various sites and the Maltese museum have images of this goddess.  Some believe it was part of a cult of those who worshipped Astarte.  Of all of the images, my favorite is the sleeping goddess seen below.

The light in Malta is wonderful and many companies go there to film.  There is a blue that I call “Maltese blue” that inhabits their ocean coves that I have seen no where else. 

 

 

 

As we toured Malta we passed this cat, more than once.

  He sat in front of a store that had a wonderful entrance including a sparkly piece of granite embedded into the sidewalk.  The cat sat on this granite basking in the sun.  It was clear from his demeanor that we tourists were only allowed on the island because he granted his most gracious permission.  This cat had cattitude!    I nicknamed him the Mayor of Malta,  I tried to capture his cattitude in this oil painting.

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No, I Won’t Come In!

It seems there is nothing a Pyr likes better than a full moon, a brisk wind and the soft delicate first snow flakes of December.   I took a photo of Tila shaking off the snow, reveling in the blowing snow and used that as the inspiration for this painting.  

In the same spirit of “Nothing is White” I tried to give this painting the reflected blue light in the snow we often see in moonlight. 

This original will also be available at the Great Pyrenee’s National Show 2012 at the rescue table with the money going to help rescue dogs that lack a “Forever Home”. 

 

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Paintings Need a Reason to Live

Now I haven’t been breathing in too much turpentine, but I recently discovered that paintings need a reason to live. 

Having finished two great works of art, I pulled out some of my 6 x 8 inch canvas and just decided to paint.  Let the muse move me.  And ack..utter failure.  Why? 

Well paintings need some sort of focal point.  Some place for your eye to land.  Another thing I found out in my recent reading is that your eye travels from left to right in a painting.  At least according to one author.  So it’s nice to plan your lightness and dark and negative space to help your eye to travel.  Or at least frame your picture. 

I had this in hand when I just started to paint.  But when I was finished there was no reason for the painting to be there.  It had no reason to “live”.  It did not have a life or a spirt of its own. 

So now I have a couple of 6 x 8 canvas paper weights.   But I think I learned a valuable lesson.  You must paint was inspires you and as part of the process you must breath some light and spirit into the work.

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My Muse Goes to Work

 

 

Tila Meditates

I have this wonderful photo I took of Tila.  On a warm summer day, after helping me garden and grill on the BBQ, he came in and parked himself in front of the candles and sat down and to my astonishment, looked as if he was sitting and meditating.  I’ve always thought Pyrs had a spiritual and mystical side.  And this proved it to me.  This is the photo I used as the basis for my first painting.  I have to say that this inspired the painting rather than me trying to copy it exactly.  There were things in life (like the drool and dirt on Tila’s chin from the garden) that I didn’t want to make into the painting.  I also wanted it to have a warm tone rather than the harsh dark background the photo has.  So I had a vision of the end result as well as a mystical pyr to help me find my way.

Of course Tila helped by nudging me for treats from time to time to make sure I took enough breaks to step back and take a good look at my painting.  He was absolutely right, you have to step back, assess and sometimes just stop until you figure something out.

The one thing I found out after “Nothing is White” is there are more shades of tan and brown and grey on a white Great Pyrenees than you can imagine.  Let alone mix the colors.  I had palettes with nothing but brown and badger and tan and various shades of cream trying to match those few hairs under the nose or over the eyes.

I did my planning and made a few preliminary sketches.  And finally after days and days of working on it and letting layers dry (believe me this Pyr painting has an undercoat) I was done.  Well not quite done…

Before I could start showing off my painting to my friends I had to get muse approval.

So after a proper examination, I was approved.

 

 

 

 

 

And at last I can say Ta Dah!  Done the final work Tila Mediates. 

 While I know I’m just taking my first steps as an artist, I’m happy to say that the original painting is going to the rescue table at the Great Pyrenee’s National Show 2012.  So hopefully some kind person will buy it there and the money will go to the rescue of Great Pyrenees Dogs that have not yet been located in their “Forever Home” yet.