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21 Sep 2016: Secret Sitters project

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I’ve long admired eye miniatures from the 18th Century. These ‘Lover’s Eye’ miniatures were often made into brooches, pendants or rings and given as love tokens. They ooze mystery and intrigue, tantalising the viewer into guessing the identity of the secret lover. Although many miniatures were probably simply a form of sentimental or mourning jewelry. See a good selection of Lover’s Eye brooches here on Pinterest.

I came to the conclusion a while back that I actually love painting eyes. I could quite happily just paint eyes from now on. So this project was inevitable. I could lose myself in the detail due to the larger (albeit miniature) scale, which I don’t normally get a chance to do with my usual portraits. I was itching to get started on the paintings, but I was struggling to find a source of small oval frames. So I wondered what else I could use instead. I thought it would be novel (no pun intended) to paint them onto books instead.

Over the last couple of months I’ve been stockpiling suitable vintage books to paint my ‘Secret Sitters’ on. It’s taken a while to just get a handful of them as I’m a little picky. They need to be small hardback, with some sort of embossed pattern which creates a frame for the painting, and not too expensive; I’ve always been thrifty!

So I’ll begin with doing my own loved ones and close friends. To set the ball rolling I’ve done eyes of my partner Paul, myself and my best friend Fran. Then I’ll be open for commission once I have a few to show off. No doubt I’ll end up doing my cats eyes too!

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