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The Family Bore
Maybe some of you saw that very funny-yet-moody totally great 2006 American movie called Bubbah Ho-Tep. At one point the old man had just died and the daughter is going through his stuff. She finds his Purple Heart, has a glance at it and promptly throws it in the wastebasket.
Now guys, what will happen to our beloved dioramas when we will all be resting in peace? I am living in such a world that I fear it could be totally alien to other people, that what I am doing and the possible beauty that I can find in my dioramas just could appeal to nobody else than me and the dozen of people that cheer me up every time I post some stuff in a forum. I have no illusion about what will happen to my dioramas when I pass out, and stupidly, I happen to care about that.
Now I remind my great-grandfather, a Parisian seller who fancied himself being an artist – and indeed he was quite the gifted porcelain painter. He painted hundreds of them. So, for a few years now, every Christmas my mum tries to slip me one or 2 plates alongside more useful stuff in my yearly loot.
Why is his stuff passed from generation to another, while the Purple Heart ends up in the dustbin? That’s because great-grandpa painted birds, nature, women with red faces and big buttocks running through fields. Timeless stuff… stuff that is pleasing to women.
So maybe I found a goal with my dioramas, if I were about to disarm them, maybe they will turn me into this century’s family bore? Maybe I would still be somewhat reminded in 2100?
A walk in the park with Aivazovski
At the time of starting this diorama, I had just finished a very big one of the “A bridge too far” kind. Even if it ended being quite satisfactory, the amount of time and energy I spent building it was certainly much more than I could afford. So I decided that the next one would be a walk in the park, something very simple, yet a bit new and daring. From the start, I wanted to do everything by myself in this one – which included sculpting the figures - and to use all my abilities to create outstanding water.
One evening while checking at my reference books – which consist more of painters’ monographs than the Osprey-type reference books - I dug out one of my favourites. It’s about Ivan Aivazovski, a Russian painter that devoted his life to painting the sea and the boats on it. Admittedly, in my opinion, this particular XIXth century Russian painter is a bit of a hit and miss.
His best paintings (“The Seventh Wave” and “The Black Sea”) certainly reach Turner’s kneecap, but a lot of his work is just a bit too much affected for my own tastes. But then there’s a big something about his work. This guy knows the sea. He paints them with colour and movement. Man, he’s been there… But then a lot of his colours are the powerful ones that you get at dawn or sunset and there is supposed to be no way that you can reproduce that in a diorama as you can’t display any background unless you build a shadow box around.
And it’s by thinking about this problem with the help of very good music that I decided that I would simply bypass it. I would make a sea shore – probably complete with a boat - but still I would use the warm colours that you get on summer’s evenings (See Photo 1).