July 2021 - Countess Grey - by Riikka Kovasin

Please meet countess Grey, the spouse of Earl Grey. She maybe has lost her youthful charms, but is still the matriarch of the family.

“Black Luxury” theme really got me baffled. Maybe I was again overthinking it as I was concentrated on the modern day luxury items. But as the idea was to show what luxury means to us, I could have shown the possibility to create as I consider that a luxury. Or being a Finnabair Brand Ambassador. Or, depending on the context, even in-door plumbing might be a luxury. As this rail of thought got me into being more and more philosophical, I then took a completely different approach.

The word pair – black and luxury – made me think about Baroque era. The darker, richer color palette than that of Rococo, the voluminous dresses and ruffles and beautiful, opulent fabrics. I was reminded of all the Spanish, Flemish and British portraits with the stiff looking dresses and the wearer’s head popping from the wealth of fabric and decorations. I especially had this image of patterned black velvet in my mind, which I then tried to imitate with stenciling and metallic paint. Ruffles, portraits, velvet – those all were luxuries that only the wealthy ones could afford.

I didn’t want to use a head of a woman in my portrait but instead took a photo of a painting I have done of a barn owl. I printed the head and used that for my character. She started off as a nameless Baroque inspired figure, but the tea toned ruffles and the fact I had my usual tea cup beside me when creating resulted her first getting some torn tea bag pieces to the ruffle and later the little pull. By that time it was obvious that she needed to be countess Grey. Although, the actual Earl Grey and the tea with bergamot oil were a product of the late 19th century. But, I’m pretty sure a foremother of the Earl didn’t have a face of an owl, either.

To reference to the old paintings, I used a metal embellishment as a name tag to the portrait. I typed the name and then treated the piece with tea to make it look more fitting to the dusty shades of the piece.

Thank you for stopping by today! Wishing you a wonderful July! 

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