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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Vintage Circus

My still life class is going to be painting a vintage circus theme for the next two weeks. There will be no clowns in this set-up-they are just too creepy. The exception is pierrot clowns from the 1920s. Gerome did this wonderful painting of a dual masquerade, and it had a pierrot type clown in it. I have been obsessing over this painting, and hope to make a pierrot costume one day for the costume class. Where am I going with this? I don't even have a pierrot toy for this set-up...but was thinking of the mood and inspiration for the vintage circus still-life. There is a Ukrainian artist that paints weird dream-like paintings of his child-hood circus memories. His name is Vachagan Narazya

I have seen his paintings from time to time in art magazines and have always liked their weird dreamy themes. Vintage circus toys are very collectible, and very expensive. I needed to make my own, or find cheap substitutes. I got a toy horse from Etsy for starters. Erik took one look at it and proclaimed it "lame," but hey, what do you want for $5.00?

I also found an antique tin toy carousel-only $2,000-did not buy that, but liked the flag on top for inspiration.

Next were some awesome circus tents made by toy train companies. No lie-these are $3,600.00!!!

More inspiration there! I bought some vintage striped polished cotton, and remembered I had one of those pop-up tents for covering your food at a picnic. I thought I could use that as a base for the tent.

After ripping off the cheesy net lace cover, I used it as a template for my striped fabric. I cut it a bit wider to make the tent shape less domed and more straight-sided. Fabric was added to all sides and a front door was propped open with buttons. The top has a flag made from buckram and painted. It is mounted to some thick foam covered in green paper for stability. The horse got a red felt make-over, and some red feather trim. Yes, it's all a bit garish and cheesy, but we shall see how well everyone paints this scene when you add a little imagination. I have some other props to add to the set-up. The next post will show the scene assembled for the class.

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