Thursday, September 19, 2019

Speech Practice

Speech Practice
18 x 24 inches acrylic paints on gallery wrapped canvas

This blog is both a bit about my technique in painting Speech Practice and a bit about the woman I am portraying....Josephine Henry, Kentucky suffragist.

I had painted a portrait of Josephine Henry from an old black and white photograph done when she was about fifty-ish.

But I was captured by the idea that Josephine Henry was considered a good speaker, especially in support of the Married Woman's Property Act of 1894. But I wondered, just how did she get so good at speaking before an audience? She probably wasn't “born that way” I figured that she had to a lotta of practice. 

I wanted to paint her a bit earlier in her life, around thirty five or so, so I gave her a hairstyle and clothing that better reflected that earlier decade. Since this is purely my imagination, I placed her outside, in her backyard, and gave her an audience of three......a bust of Homer, a bust of Cicero (famed Roman orator).....and a curious cat.

I deepened the background foliage, and refined my idea of what she might have looked like at the earlier age, and deepened the shadows on her “audience”. 
I also wanted to have on the top of the stack of books, a representation of a curiosity of the time (before youtube), a whole book on the formal technique of speech gestures. Very dramatic hand swoops and chops designed to give any speaker a tool box of gestures for emphasis of their point. Of course the speakers depicted were all was considered a man's job to give speeches after all! But nothing stopped women from learning all about the fine art of speech making from that same manual.

I continued refining my historical illustration of the “making of a speech maker” in Josephine Henry, till I felt she reflected my concept of the scene.

Here is a bit more about Josephine Henry:

1843-1928 Kentucky writer, speaker, political advocate for women's rights. Born in Newport KY and later moved to Versailles, KY. She married Capt. Wm. Henry in 1868. Both were involved in local/state community affairs. 
Josephine Henry was instrumental in getting passage of Kentucky's Married Women Property Act or the Husband and Wife Act in 1894. This bill allowed women the right to own property in Kentucky, overturning old laws preventing women from owning property, receiving wages, making a will or even be guardians of their own children. Passage of this bill, was a crucial step in women winning the right to vote in Kentucky.
Like many women activists of the time, Josephine Henry came from a well to do family. She had the time, books and support to learn about political issues and developed the will to actually make change happen. She authored pamphlets on women's equality. She lectured throughout the state, and wrote hundreds of articles and editorials for newspapers.She co-founded the Kentucky Equal Rights Association. She died in Versailles after a stroke at the age of 85

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