The Artist Portrait, 2000

The Italian artist Arcimboldo inspired this painting. I had come across a book about Arcimboldo and his art. I found it very fascinating because he used everyday objects to make people’s portraits.That inspired me to make my own portrait using my art materials from my studio. When I see the photo of this painting it brings happy memories of the many hours that I have spent painting in my life.

I am really very happy with this painting. Until this very day I have half a mind to ask the buyer to give me back my painting.That is because all the things that I used to make my own portrait were so very dear to me.

I used those art materials to that particular time.Now I do not use the same kind of materials that I did when the “Sterre Artist Portrait” was made. To the time when I made this painting I was often ill with allergies. I had to take lots of medicines to control sinusitis and allergic skin reactions.

It was just a few years after I made this painting that two people alerted me as to the consequences of the materials that I was using for my art. One was a renowned French skin specialist who mentioned that, among other things, I could be allergic to the materials that I was using as an artist. The other person who alerted me was a cousin of my husband. She is a dietitian and knew me very well. She  advised me about improving my diet.As she was speaking to me she asked me if I had proper ventilation in my studio. She felt that my allergies could be due to the turpentine and oils in the paints I was using. It is true that the turpentine that I needed to use when working with oil paint created burnt welts on my skin whenever I came directly in contract with it. If I held a brush with my teeth I would get burn marks around my mouth. However, I did not realise that breathing the fumes was also burning me inside. This person advised me to use a face mask whenever I painted. When I followed all this advice from these two saviours, almost all my symptoms disappeared!

I started to experiment with less toxic paint when I realised that these materials were hurting me, though I did not abandon oil paints completely! I still use oil paint when I want a really solid look, usually for portraits or bodies. Sometimes I also use it for when I paint animals. These allergies have completely changed how my art looks now.

She’s a Leopard Too: Tapestry

My mother, who is a tapestry weaver, really liked this painting. She made a beautiful tapestry based on it that is just the same size as the original. It is included here.