Arrangement in Green and Black: Photos by Aline Smithson
Photos inspired by a James McNeill Whistler painting using traditional photography and hand painting.
This series had serendipitous beginnings. I found a small print of Whistler’s painting, Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter’s Mother, at a neighborhood garage sale. The same weekend, I found a leopard coat and hat, a 1950’s cat painting, and what looked like the exact chair from Whistler’s painting. That started me thinking about the idea of portraiture, the strong compositional relationships going on within Whistler’s painting, and the evocative nature of unassuming details.
The series incorporates traditional photography techniques, yet becomes richer with the treatment of hand painting. It is my intent to have the viewer see the work in a historical context with the addition of color, and at the same time, experience Whistler’s simple, yet brilliant formula for the composition.
My patient 85 year-old mother posed in over 20 ensembles, but unfortunately passed away before seeing the finished series. I am grateful for her sense of humor and the time this series allowed us to be together.