This ongoing series of drawings are all painted or drawn on 11.5” x 15” plates from a Victorian era woman’s magazine called Peterson’s Magazine.  The collection is dated from the 1850s and the contemporary equivalent might be Women’s Day Magazine.  Peterson’s Magazine was filled with incredibly complicated needlework projects- pen wipes, plant holders, and fancy monograms to adorn the equally complex clothing patterns included in its pages.  It also contained recipes for skin care products and meals, both of which often started with the instructions to boil the calf’s head and separate out the fat.  Another aspect of the magazine is the fictional short stories, too sentimental for me to ever actually finish reading, although several have been started.  Of all the magazines visual components, the most compelling for me are the fashion plates.  To my contemporary eye they had an air of innocence and darkness.  The clothes look cumbersome and formal, stiff and restrictive.  The children’s clothes look especially daunting, and as a mother I don’t think I could ever have enticed or threatened my son enough to get him to wear the many layers, buttons, and frills involved in the clothing.  Not to mention he would have instantly spilled something on them.  
 
Something about the over sweet imagery brought forth my darker side, and I started painting spiders on the prints.  It was also the intense detail in the prints, the fine lines, that made me look to spiders and other insects, who are covered in beautiful tiny detail.  I find insects to be gorgeous, yet strange creatures, and an exotic yet common part of our everyday world. I have also always been a playground defender of ants and other insects.   I thought also of Greek mythology and women in a traditional role as seamstress.
 
I enjoyed the challenge of working on the found surfaces, and trying to make the incongruous new imagery of mine fit on top of the fashion plates. I adore the difficulties of working very small, and slightly moving my wrist as opposed to painting with one’s whole arm.  I try to make my marks and colors fit seamlessly with the pre-existing marks of the original prints.   I find these to be a mix of the hilarious and absurd with darkness, as if Emily Dickinson  poems or Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre collided with  Nature.
 
 
Victorian Drawings
Rib Cage, 2008
6” x 9”
Bones and blood
6” x 9”
Double Loons
9” x 12”
Knitted Mitten
6” x 9”
Weave
6” x 9”
The Superior
6” x 9”
The Labrador
6” x 9”
Walking Dress
6” x 9”
Children's Fashions
6” x 9”
Spider Stories
6” x 9”
Spider Lust
6” x 9”
June
6” x 9”
Weave, of a Thousand Flowers
6” x 9”
Pray
6” x 9”
Milk Maid
6” x 9”
The Incomparable
6” x 9”
Mourning Cap
6” x 9”
Mourning
6” x 9”
La Golconda
6” x 9”
The Vestalvi Cloak
6” x 9”
Heart
6” x 9”
Eye
6” x 9”
Egg
6” x 9”
Spider Fashion
6” x 9”
Forest Spider
6” x 9”
Net for the Hair
6” x 9”
Lizards and Birds
6” x 9”
The Harvest
6” x 9”
2004 - 2008
All drawings are acrylic on Victorian era print