This night circus was a Bizarre World of Wonder! The most gothic show of the week, it featured circus, neo-burlesque and dark cabaret. Above is MisSa Blue in glittering gold. She is an amazing performer and swallowed a flaming sword! There was Dunja Von K, who I’ve drawn often, doing a spooky uncanny Valley routine! I knew she wouldn’t mind my doing a kinda creepy take on this routine.
Bunny is an artist of circus and theater and design and drawing, who has also worked as a professional model, both art and fashion, for many years. She was flown to Milan to work as a performer in an interactive promotional symposium for global food brands, as best I can understand it. She was an alien robot maîtresse de maison, in a chic Blade Runner style.
Then she came to Berlin, and we worked. We’ve worked together before, with this picture:
Bunny Holmes by Suzanne Forbes- photo by Neil Girling
Which was an extremely strenuous picture to do, as Bunny actually posed balanced on the tightwire for it the entire time.
It took multiple short sittings, but since in Oakland we lived five minutes from her warehome slash studio slash performance space, that was fine.
This time we worked much more intensely, two 2.5 hour sessions of pure flow state with no breaks and no hesitation. I had hoped to have some of the folks from my classes join us, but we wound up working wildly late at night, starting each sitting at 11.
I wanted to make a picture that was more about Bunny as a working artist and athlete than as a beautiful woman.
It was very important to me to show the bottom of her feet and the muscle in her calves. We tried just a couple of poses before finding this one, with her feet propped on a pink velvet boudoir chair I bought at my antique dealer’s in Neukölln and brought home on the U-Bahn.
It wasn’t until the painting was half-done that I realized how explicitly it references Manet’s Olympia.
And in turn the Venuses that Olympia references, like Titian’s Venus of Urbino. Victorine Meurent, the model for Olympia, was of course both a significant artist in her own right and a professional artist’s model. So the title is an art history joke on multiple levels. Wilmersdorf is the neighborhood we live in!
The painting is almost done; I’ll post more pics as soon as I finish the details.
I am so grateful to my Patrons for your support, giving me the wherewithal to begin painting here, and to be able to pay Bunny for her work on it. I love you, and I am happier than I have ever been.
I went to Neil Girling‘s house for one last cocktail hour to varnish them and he was kind enough to photograph them for me.
They are both paintings of extremely good, smart, talented and ridiculously beautiful people who I love deeply, and I had a glorious time painting them. They are two of my four final finished works from my last month in the Bay Area and I am very proud of them; I hope you like them!