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J. Kevin Byrne
My Seven Silent Ladies of Mia 357, Sketched faces from portrait paintings and sculpture; graphite sketch photocopied into grey cover stock, ground-acrylic-gel-coated, mixed media to color.

Inspired by:

Gallery 357

What does inspiration mean to you?

I’m reminded of a quote from a mentor, Timothy Hawkesworth, a decade back: “Painting communicates through the power of unnamed substances. It creates a silence inside of us in which the imagination has room to travel.”

Mia has a gallery numbered 357 but also subtitled “Realists” which, over a few years, I took a liking to for sketching. One day I decided to study then copy faces of just over half-dozen ladies of various ages who appeared on the gallery’s north wall; I then assembled them into a kind of “compositional collage” that became one panoramic sketch, and later added color. When I was done, oddly, each portrait, heretofore visually shouting at me with feelings, became more modest, more quiet – as did I: 357 was strangely silent, so rare, as the marble sculpture titled VEILED LADY usually gets everyone talking plenty!

1a, 1b: James Tissot, On the Thames, a Heron, c. 1871-1872, oil on canvas.

2: Rafaelo Monti, Veiled Lady, c. 1860, marble.

3a, 3b: William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Temptation, 1880, oil on canvas.

4. Henri Lehmann, Portrait of Clémentine (Mrs. Alphonse) Karr, 1845, oil on canvas.

5. Gustave Courbet, Portrait of Anika Psalmon, Mrs. Robin, 1862, oil on canvas.

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