Fairytales have a certain level of predictability. We know the usual tropes, such as shining knights and distressed damsels, the general arc of the story is not a surprise.
But despite this, there is nothing stale or formulaic about a fairytale. The space between “once upon a time” and “happily ever after” has an unlimited potential for fanciful adventure, bizarre characters, and magical intervention.
Clemence Dubois, the artist of Art Talk’s Piece of the Week, has a whimsical artistic process that mirrors a knightly quest in a charmed fairytale world.
Dubois begins with spontaneous lines and sketches. These preliminary marks glitter in blank-page potential. They shape-shift, transform, and expand into her magical fairytale images. Guided by her intuition, she has the ability to turn simple marks into extraordinary characters.
We honor the oil painting The Queen of the Birds (20”x19”) this week in its book character charm and regal beauty. It is a portrait of the fantastical queen against a background of lax blue rectangles and leafy buds.
Her skin is a glow of fair ivory. Her cheeks show the bloom of a blush. Her eyes are blue and her lips are red. Her nose and neck are impossibly long and thin. In essence, she is a vision of a nearly-mythic fairytale beauty.
“The character reminded me of an old queen with her clothing and hairstyle of great wealth” says the artist.
The queen is true, peach, rosy and flawless. She wears an orange garment patterned with white flowers and green leaves. She wears an ornate speckled collar. Her elaborate, three-tiered headdress is embroidered with opulent filigree. These regal trappings assert her pomp and stateliness.
A pair of leggy, off-white birds encircle her neck. According to the artist, she gives the birds protection and they give her the epithet, “Queen of the Birds.”
The canvas traces many gentle curves throughout the lines of the composition. These include the lines of headdress, the swirling adornment, the skirted collar, her arced eyebrows, and her almond shaped eyes. These arcs incant the neck and wings of the birds, as if the shape too was a subject under her reign.
Like a knight on a twisting and unpredictable of an adventure, Dubois describes an unraveling of her preconceived intentions. For example, Dubois initially wanted to make the background of The Queen of the Birds into a cast iron fence; however, the guide of her painterly mark-making leads her to an entirely different visual. The result was this mosaic-like tapestry of blues.