Art making is called a “practice” – well – because of the amount of practice involved. For most painters, countless sketches and drawings precede a finished piece. Such was the case for Dusti Bongé.
Dusti Bongé Art Foundation Executive Director Ligia M. Römer shares with us insight into a sketch that informed a painting.
Dusti Bongé, Lehigh Sketch Book – p.7 recto – Study for Mamie, c.1940, pen & ink on paper, 10” x 8”
We are pivoting back to presenting studies, doodles, and mini masterpieces from Dusti Bongé’s sketchbooks through the years. This is a work from her early period.
Herewith a sketch from a 1940 spiral sketchbook containing sixteen pages of pen and ink drawings by Dusti. The book is one which Dusti used for a while, then probably tucked away, only to start using again several years later.
This is essentially a study for a subsequent painting. In particular for the vibrant painting Mamie from 1947. It depicts a local shrimp boat that Dusti must have come across on her many strolls through Back Bay or along Front Beach.
Mamie is a great example of how Dusti’s early, mostly Cubist representations of her real observations evolved into surrealist visions, where although the subject matter is still based on real life, it nonetheless takes on a fantastical quality. The boat is shown from the stern with the name “Mamie” on its transom, the bow pointing upward and away from our view. There are quick marks indicating outriggers, masts, a spoked ship’s wheel, a wheelhouse and coiled ropes.
But then there are some less than obvious elements on the deck of the boat where you would expect task-oriented areas for separating the shrimp from miscellaneous fish, etc. Here, instead we have something resembling a flower box with plants that have long, wild sprigs with flowers poking out. Some of these surrealist details are more obvious in the painting below. The painting also features the funny little white bird which makes its presence known in many of Dusti’s surrealist works.