I had a very strong connection with my maternal great-grandmother, who came here from Russia as a young wife with 4 children. She was a tailor, as her husband was, who died before I was able to really know him. They lived in and around Hudson Avenue in Rochester with many other Russian immigrants, back in the 40's and 50's. When they came here they spoke no English and could not read it. They would never speak of the hard times they had, which made them move here but I heard of letters to relatives back home that had no food and awful conditions to live in. As poor as she was, she would send money to them. I just remember playing in her huge button box and eating black bread with sour cream and giant dill pickles. We still use her recipe for borscht to this day. Forever I have been intrigued by the Tsar and his family, the Romanov's, who were all killed. I always say it is because of my Russian heritage, but I've realized it goes deeper than that. I see a real resemblance to Tsarina Alexandra, in my mother. I'm not implying that we are related. But I do find it uncanny how much they look alike. My great-grandmother's name was Anastasia, as was the youngest daughter of the Romanov family. I feel very emotionally connected to the sad resolve that I see in the family's faces in almost all of their photos. Luckily for me, the Romanov's photos are mostly all in the public domain at this point. Luckily I say, because I finally decided to paint some of them. The mostly black and white photos, of course lend themselves to working in black and white, but I decided to do that also because I have been using an extremely bright, rainbow palette for almost 10 years. I needed a change. I have been grappling with a new direction for at least 6 months and I think I have found it. I do love to work with a knife and I feel that this contemporary technique brings these old photos into the 21st Century. I've also begun to embrace the "unfinished" look in my paintings; it leaves more interaction possible for the viewer. I think this is my new direction!
March 4th, 2019
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