Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Before the March – Clarksville Suffragists

Before The March
11x14 inch acrylic painting on gallery wrapped canvas

This blog post is starting off an occasional series of paintings featuring my take on the local suffragist movement to pass the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote. I want to highlight local women's contribution to that cause. In researching the suffragist movement, I found a lovely photo on the Clarksville Arts and Heritage website.....

Clarksvillian Constance Rudolph (first row, center) is only one identified, date unknown.
(photo courtesy of the Montgomery County Archives)

Seeing all the lovely young ladies in white, being shepherded by two women leaders in dark suits and bowler hats......I couldn't help but wonder what the scene might have looked like as they were gathering together before their march. I love imagining what might have happened before/after a photograph was taken.

So I began to design a composition.....

I settled on a sunlit bit of grass for the suffragists to gather together into their march formation. I really wanted to highlight the young ladies white dresses and straw hats or “boaters” against the contrast of the shadowed trees. I also wanted to add in, in the background, a few male onlookers scoffing at the gathering. The symbolism of the gentlemen in dark suits and hats, lurking in the shadows of the trees against the white of the sunlit young women's dresses was a compositional perk not to be wasted. I also liked the “messaging” of the two march leaders.....dressed in “serious” dark dresses and suit coats with the “take charge” bowler hats....usually only worn by men. I did want to note that there was in the photograph, a couple of men in the group....whether sweethearts, brothers, or “suffra-gents”. To add this note, I added one young gentleman talking to the standard bearer on the right.

Here I've gotten the composition firmed up and gotten the basic colours set in. I had added in some white marking a a design feature. I wanted to draw attention to the urban setting for the march and as visual “pointer” to an out of sight young lady rushing to join her friends in the group. In the finished version I put the young lady running towards the group in the main front view to connect the curb and the background hecklers. This is done on a deep gallery wrapped she is finished out “around the corner” so to speak.

I've had a blast painting this subject, and even more fun researching the stories about this movement. 

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