Monica D. Murgia

Art, creativity, and fashion
March 9th, 2015 by Monica Murgia

Photo Diary: Leave

leaf imprint
“We leave something of ourselves behind, when we leave a place, we stay there even though we go away.  And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.  We travel to ourselves when we go to a place where we have covered a stretch of our life, no matter how brief it may have been. But by traveling to ourselves, we must confront our own loneliness. And isn’t it so everything we do is done out of fear of loneliness?  Isn’t that why we renounce all the things we will regret at the end of our lives?” – Pascal Mercier
leaf imprint


March 6th, 2015 by Monica Murgia

Photo Diary: Snow


“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” – Lewis Carroll



February 27th, 2015 by Monica Murgia

Photo Diary: The Day to Come

“Perhaps the day may come when we shall remember these sufferings with joy.” – Virgil


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 25th, 2015 by Monica Murgia

Photo Diary: Winter


“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus



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.
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.
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.
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


February 9th, 2015 by Monica Murgia

Photo Diary: Connected

But I’ll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.  – Alan Watts

January 29th, 2015 by Monica Murgia

Photo Diary: Landscape

“The mind is the only landscape that can change itself.” – Margaret A. Boden


January 28th, 2015 by Monica Murgia

Frances Louise Ward

Glamour September 1944
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.
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.”
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.

January 27th, 2015 by Monica Murgia

Photo Diary: Wings

Bird in Flight
“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
Bird in Flight


November 24th, 2014 by Monica Murgia

Photo Diary: Gratitude

“Gratitude and attitude are not challenges; they are choices.” Robert Braathe


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