3.17.2008

the cecilia beaux dress



Have you ever been in an artist's studio and caught a whiff of the oil paints? There is something cozy and comfortable about this smell. Maybe it reminds me of my grandma. She was an artist. The walls of her tiny living room were covered from floor to ceiling with her paintings. Her house had this oil paint smell, mingled with the smell of a wood stove.

When I look at a Cecilia Beaux painting, it's pure synesthesia: I can almost smell the intoxicating paint. Her brush strokes are wide and expressive. Layers and layers of paint tell a story about how this painting was made. I almost feel transported into her artist's studio and watch the deliberate movement of her hand brushing each stroke of paint onto the canvas. I think this is what I love most about Cecilia Beaux.

If you ever get to D.C., you must visit the Portrait Gallery where this brilliant painting "the Man with the Cat" hangs. For me, it was love at first sight. I loved it so much that I wanted to recreate it somehow. This desire evolved into a soft yellow dress, with fluid lines and swaths of gathered fabric.

35 comments:

lynne said...

Melissa!! That dress - and photo - amazing. How does that tie around the neck work? It really feels like that painting to me... again, utterly amazing.

I didn't know your grandmother was an artist, too. No wonder.

Amy said...

Oh, gosh... gorgeous. Really, I don't know how you do it.

TeamMcDonough said...

Wow....That dress is amazing. The photo is great. Lovely models.

Carrie said...

The dress style and color-perfect!
You are amazing!

Joslyn said...

Melissa...so beautiful as usual. But i really think my favorite part is seeing your inspiration. I love getting a glimpse of your creative wheels turning. awesome.

Audrey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jen said...

What a fabulous interpretation. The fabric choice is stunning!

Kari said...

Wow. Wonderful interpretation of that painting. It's great to see someone turn inspiration into a tangible object (I just think about it, but never do it!)

Leslie said...

Oh, Iove this. What a beautiful color. Probably my favorite creation so far.

Audrey said...

Your creations really are a work of art. I love it!

miss chris said...

Stunning. In awe, yet again. I'm so glad you share these with us, though... you've got my gears turning these days, and I think I'm going to have some fun with summer dresses this year... Thanks for your always inspiring posts. xo

kennedy & friends said...

This is admirable. Both the painting and the dress. There is only one word that comes to my mind right now. WOW! my aunt is an artist as well and i know exactly what you mean about the oil paint smell. but i know that every time i get to her house and i smell the paint, something beautiful is about to be born.

Margo said...

BEAUTIFUL! The dress is just lovely, but the photo of your little girl in the dress is lovely enough to frame for a gallery too! You have such an eye and good for you for following through on your ideas.

Bethany Hissong said...

This is pure brilliance!!!! I LOVE the whole idea of reinventing the painting into a concept for a dress. It's just perfect. I LOVE portraits and I can see what you love in this one. I have always loved John Singer Sargent... the Cincinnati Art Museum has one of his huge portraits hanging there and I would just stare in awe as a child. I have amazingly never been to the Portrait Gallery in D.C. so it's now on my "must do" list!!! And any time you want to smell oil paint, just come by my house! Melissa.. I just love how creative you are!!!

lera said...

Love the neckline! Great dress!

Hillary said...

ooh, pretty! I'm very impressed with that gorgeous dress but honestly right now I'm mesmerized by your photoshopping skillz :)

elliebelle said...

What a beautiful interpretation of a painting. I just want to touch that buttery velvet.

Rach said...

Is there no end to your talent? You have an amazing ability to bring to life your ideas. Mine always come to life in a version that is a characiture of the original idea...

sew nancy said...

The dress is so beautiful. Great design. I love the detail around the neck and the color.
What fabric did you use?

Kristine said...

Gorgeous dress. I love the way you have recreated the background. The smell of oil paints reminds me of my grandmother too. She was a dressmaker and artist so her basement was full of easels, paint boxes, fabrics, dressmaker's stands. It was a treasure trove.

Dawn Elizableth said...

Absolutely gorgeous!

Sarah said...

Just breathtaking. These images and this stunning dress really remind me that when we create, in whatever form, we are all artists.

melissa said...

The dress is made from a soft brushed twill.

amy said...

this dress is stunning. simply beautful.

Cakies said...

Wow! I love the dress and photo... you make such stunning creations!

cookie said...

what a pleasure visiting your blog, a real feast for the eyes..
love

lera said...

Melissa -- yes, I am LDS. I discovered you and Lynne were when she made her Mrs. Roper comment. We were banned from watching Three's Company when we were growing up. It was immoral. :-)

katie said...

melissa- this is just lovely.

i also love the smell of oil paints (and turpentine)- reminds of when i first knew chip.

Antoinette Perez said...

Wonderful to see the inspiration and your new creation. Even the gray backdrop in the photo really echoes the painted background from your inspiration. So lovely!

Linnea said...

Amazing, the dress, the photo, the painting it is all so beautiful. I love the thought of interpreting art into something you can wear. I am so impressed and inspired.

eBirdie said...

Gorgeous portrait - yours and Beaux's!

Emily said...

That's a very nice color. And I really like that little 'h' stitched to the back. What a serene picture!

TD wool design said...

yes, i've seen that painting. beautiful, charming little dress. do you have a shop?

Lauren Hawley said...

Love this. Both the inspiration and the manifestation. You are so talented.

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