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Given Pause

March 26, 2013

Having a moment

Entitled, “Even Surrounded by Forest, She Could be Stopped by Thoughts of the Cactus Flowers They’d Seen in the Desert”, this is the second of two painting commissions for our friend Susan. The first (see it here) was an interesting exercise because it allowed me to revisit a long-unused medium: colored pencils. This piece was notable because I had decided to use an unusual frame — and then integrate it into the piece’s narrative. The frame was so unusual I made sure to show it to Susan before I began working on it … She readily agreed to my using it even though I had no idea how at that time. Now that it’s finished I think it’s successful and quite striking. Happily, Susan does too! Here’s the backstory …


Susan’s brief for the piece was that it suit her bedroom and its cool blue color palette, that it include a face and cactus flowers … She loves how I render both, and I’m happy to say they are favorite subjects of mine. Now, the frame: I found three of them at Old Glory Antiques here in Riverside and I had to have them all. Two of them had wind motifs — all swirls and puffy cheeked mythic kings (see below). The third, the one I used, had a forest theme. All were made of molded fiberglass in the 50s or 60s, and were probably meant to hold mirrors — horizontally. I had seen the space Susan’s painting would occupy and knew the piece would have to be vertical. Still I was determined to make it work, so I upended it and it was perfect; the right size and an interesting shape. All that remained was repairing a few dings, patching some holes and neutralizing it all with a few coats of primer. While it dried I began working on the painting … as the piece progressed I would place the frame over it, allowing it to inform the direction I would take with both color and image. Ultimately I decided the primed frame, as it was, was an apt foil for the portrayal of a woman caught in a desert blossom revery: The forest was still a definite presence but had receded, surpassed by her colorful memories.

>>> o <<<

As an artist, I’m lucky to have a patroness as trusting as Susan … She allows me to explore, and is willing to go along for the ride. She’s got four pieces of mine in her home now and it’s an interesting experience seeing them all in one place … Each reminds me of a specific time and its attendant mindset. And though each is different, it’s obvious to me they were all created by the same hand. I love that I know where they are and Susan says I can see them any time. —Thanks, Susan!


14 Comments leave one →
  1. March 26, 2013 12:48 pm

    Reuben, this is beautiful! Who is the woman, her eyes are so striking… you get a sense that she has been places and seen a lot. Plus, she reminds me of an Indian princess. Well done!

  2. March 26, 2013 9:34 pm

    Wonderful to see the inspired result of an ongoing patroness/artist collaboration. I thought these kinds of relationships just didn’t happen anymore. Nice to see a thriving example.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 26, 2013 9:41 pm

      Thanks, Denise … My relationship with Susan is rare indeed!

  3. March 26, 2013 9:57 pm


  4. Vickie Perez permalink
    March 27, 2013 4:55 am

    What a joy to be able to create a piece that you know will go to someone who loves what you do. And to be able to go and “visit” is just too cool. You can surely be an inspiration to someone who just quite can’t find her way to drawing and painting anymore. Too many have toos that are coming first. But I have hopes that the hands will remember when the day comes.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 27, 2013 5:01 am

      If I could truly inspire you to action I’d be beyond-proud … Go for it, Vickie, it’s not too late!

  5. March 28, 2013 5:13 am

    I haven’t used colored pencils for a while, but this makes me want to haul them out again! It’s a lovely piece of art! Tomorrow I have to make 4 more powerpoints for work, but after that I’m planning a tiny ‘movie’. Fun!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 28, 2013 5:46 am

      Thanks, V, sharpen those colored pencils and send me a pic; I’d love to see your handiwork!

  6. Jenn permalink
    March 30, 2013 3:56 am

    Ah, the lovely saguaro. We are just now heading into their bloom season. Lovely. What is the purple flower? is that a mammalaria? or something else? Love that your work is so evocative and yet so very descriptive. Wish I could be a patron, too. (maybe someday)

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 30, 2013 5:09 am

      Hi, Jenn, I can’t remember what the purple flower is, however the actual flower is orange … I love your take on my art; thanks so much!

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