Monica D. Murgia

Art, creativity, and fashion

Archive for the ‘art’ Category

February 26th, 2015 by Monica Murgia

Historically Accurate Costuming

There is a great video that illustrates the difference between fantasy and historically accurate costuming.  Character development in film and animation is largely controlled by garments.  Illustrators and costumers are faced with a challenge of making the character believable and accurate, while still appealing to modern tastes and fashions.  Reconciling historical and modern tastes can be a challenge.  This is largely due to the fact that ideal beauty changes over the course of time.  (New to my site?  You should view my previous posts, Movies, Beauty, & Ideal Beauty and A Return to the Ideal.)  The video shows Disney characters alongside with what their actual everyday garments would have been.  I think each of these looks is great, although I prefer the historically correct versions better.  Enjoy!

February 24th, 2015 by Monica Murgia

Ineffable: Various Media

Pens.  Pencils.  Paint.  Photography.  Each of these mediums creates a different essence in a composition.  When I’m really fascinated by a subject, time seems to be suspended.  The outside world dissolves into murky dust and gently vanishes.  My mind quiets.  I feel tuned into the energy of my subject in a mysterious, ineffable way.    The way the light hits its surface.  Its reaction to temperature.  How the environment caresses and envelopes it.  I love to capture these qualities and sensations with different media.
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My acute sensitivity to the external world can be overwhelming if I don’t select the right environment.  So I often make solitary journeys out into the woods.  I pack a large bag, strewn with various media, and set out on foot.  I generally start out photographing scenes and images that are pleasing to me.  Photography offers me a way to quickly frame the subject, and determine the best composition.  I can rapidly snap shot after shot, moving my vantage point and area of focus.  After a few moments, the composition will reveal itself to me.  As fast as I can, I unpack and set up my portable studio.  I sit quietly, and compare my subject to the jumbled pile of markers, paints, and pencils.  The process is akin to striking a tuning fork to achieve perfect pitch in a musical instrument.  I can sense the colors and mood emanating from my subject.  The work that unfolds in front of me is matching that energy.
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As the environment changes, it changes my subject.  The early afternoon is full of vibrant energy.  The intense sunlight dances through the leaves, changing their color.  First green.  Then yellow.  The wind blows, and the blades of grass bend and twirl gleefully.  As the shadows creep over, the thicket turns turquoise and blue.  Afternoon turns to evening.  A sense of melancholy enters the scene, like escorting out the last guest at the end of a much anticipated party.
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These delicate blades of grass changed so much before me.  Each of my studies evokes the variation that played before my eyes.  The photograph shows the blissful solitude of an untouched woodland.  The drawing hints at the playful dance of the wind and grasses.  The woodblock print illustrates the setting sun bidding farewell to the enchanting landscape.  Using different media allows me to depict this mysterious shift.
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February 17th, 2015 by Monica Murgia

Photo Diary: Rain

“Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.” Langston Hughes
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January 29th, 2015 by Monica Murgia

Photo Diary: Landscape

“The mind is the only landscape that can change itself.” – Margaret A. Boden
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January 28th, 2015 by Monica Murgia

Frances Louise Ward

Several months ago, I received an email from one of my readers named Susan.  Her mother, Frances Louise Ward, passed away several years ago.  Among the remaining estate was a bridesmaid dress made by Antonio Castillo while he was employed by Elizabeth Arden.  It had some damage to the white tulle, and she was curious about the materials he used so that she could properly clean and fix the dress.
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Susan’s email details some of her mother’s history:
“The dress was a bridesmaid dress from my mother’s wedding 1948.  She was one of NYC’s top models and Hollywood starlet so she had a big wedding…plus she married someone from a very aristocratic family.  Also her wedding dress is in our storage unit and last time I say it a couple years ago , it was in perfect condition but in a box so it’s crinkled…it may be by Castillo also or maybe Dior since she modeled wedding dresses for Dior.”
Frana's wedding photo
“I attached photos of my mother ….one of her in her wedding dress!  She had thousands of clothes and we had a huge sale in NYC in 2009…her name was Frances Ward when she was a Power’s model in the 40’s and 50’s.  She started modeling at age 15.”
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Some details surfaced about Ward’s wedding in a family scrapbook.   The advertisement, above, for the Woodbury Soap Company chronicles her marriage to piano-heir Charles Kohler White.  (It appeared in Life Magazine on March 7th, 1949.) It reads:
“Wedding Bells Chime – sweet harmony as Frances Louise Ward weds piano-heir Charles Kohler White in St. Aloysius Church, Great Neck, Long Island.  Charles beams with pride – Frances looks luscious.  Her cream-smooth complexion?  A, that’s Woodbury’s beauty trick.  ‘It’s been a daze’ chuckles Charles, ‘since Frances danced into my life!’  Courtship kept him hopping.  Yale!  New York!  Carolina plantation!”
Woodbury Soap Company  featured similar advertisement throughout the 1940s to sell their soap.  Each advertisement featured a newly wedded couple, telling the story of their romance and how Woodbury soap was a critical ingredient to their love story.  (You can see similar advertisements here.)
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 Ward was a beauty, and graced the cover of Glamour Magazine in 1944, below.  Dubbed “The Career Issue”, landing this cover must have been quite the honor.  The image was taken at the height of World War II, a time during which many women flooded the workforce.  Men were fighting the war, leaving many vacancies across various industries.  For the first time, women from every socioeconomic status could earn their own money in any industry of their choosing, without shame, discouragement, or contempt.  Prior to the war, women were not encouraged to work.   Gender roles were much more ridged.  There were only a few types of careers that a woman could pursue, such as teaching, nursing, or fashion-related work.  Other choices were frowned upon or impossible to obtain.  During the war, this perception began to shift.  Women were encouraged to join the workforce, primarily in male-dominated industries, as a form of patriotism.  The need to replace the workforce was critical to win the war and keep the economy intact.
Glamour September 1944

Many thanks go Susan for sharing these great images of her mother.  She is currently working on conserving the Castillo dress and will provide some photos when she is finished.  If you have any additional information on Frances Louise Ward, please leave a comment.

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January 27th, 2015 by Monica Murgia

Photo Diary: Wings

“Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings.”  Victor Hugo
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November 10th, 2014 by Monica Murgia

Photo Diary: Paradise

And they asked, “How do you get to the paradise land?”  He said:  “It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying ‘here it is ‘or ‘there it is’.  Rather, the paradise land is spread out upon the earth and you do not see it.  What you seek is inside of you as much as it is outside of you.”  Gospel of Thomas

Heaven

 

November 7th, 2014 by Monica Murgia

Photo Diary: Impatience

“When you plant seeds in the
garden, you don’t dig them up
every day to see if they have
sprouted yet. You simply water
them and clear away the weeds;
you know that the seeds will grow
in time. Similarly, just do your daily
practice and cultivate a kind heart.
Abandon impatience and instead be
content creating the causes for
goodness; the results will come
when they’re ready.”

 – Thubten Chodron -

Flowers

September 2nd, 2014 by Monica Murgia

Photo Diary: Starting Over

“I don’t start over.  You see, I just go on from one thing to another.  They’re all really the same.” – Diana Vreeland 

 

Eagle

 

August 13th, 2014 by Monica Murgia

Photo Diary: Door

Why search in vain / in every door in which we will not exist / because we have not yet arrived?

That is how I found out / that I was exactly like you / and like the whole world.

- Pablo Neruda

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August 12th, 2014 by Monica Murgia

Photo Diary: Transformation

“He had been persecuted and despised for his ugliness, and now he heard them say he was the most beautiful of all the birds. Even the elder-tree bent down its bows into the water before him, and the sun shone warm and bright. Then he rustled his feathers, curved his slender neck, and cried joyfully, from the depths of his heart, ‘I never dreamed of such happiness as this, while I was an ugly duckling.’”- Hans Christian Andersen

Goose

 

August 8th, 2014 by Monica Murgia

Photo Diary: Reverse

“We must abandon completely the notion of blaming the past for any kind of situation we are in.  And we have to reverse our thinking to see that the past always flows out of the present.  That now is the creative point of life.  And so, you see, it’s like the idea of forgiving somebody.  You change the meaning of the past by doing that.  It’s also like the flow of music.   The melody as it is expressed is changed by notes that come later.  The present is always changing the past.” – Alan Watts
Reverse

 

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