Saturday, August 23, 2014

Bette Davis in the "Dark Secret of Harvest Home"

I know it seemed that I had gone the way of the Carlotta portrait, but I am not tragically missing- just tragically busy. I do sincerely apologize for not posting sooner. Fear not, though- while I may not have been posting about the Art of Film, I certainly was thinking about so hopefully my posts will continue to entertain.

Today's post is dedicated to John Stewart, the art of the piece on which I wanted to focus. As a little background, John is a California artist who worked in Hollywood for years and years. I actually met him through his comments on my blog and he's provided valuable feedback and insight into the world of artist who work for the movies or television. John is an accomplished artist of his own right, I really enjoy his blog  "A Drawing Per Day" and I hope you are encouraged to do so as well.
A few weeks ago, John sent me some pictures of his work and one piece in particular fascinated me. It was a portrait of the legendary Bette Davis commissioned for the 1978 TV mini-series, "The Dark Secret of Harvest Home," based on a bestselling horror book. As you probably know, I am no horror fan, so I haven't seen it and have absolutely no intention of doing so. From a quick google search, I found out that "Harvest Home" is about neo-paganism in a small country town- pretty creepy stuff. But even if I can't appreciate (or even view) the show without nightmares, I can appreciate the art.
John left this comment, which I'm going to use, because it sums up the story of the painting better than anything I could write.

"Early on in my career as a film artist (in 1977) I got an assignment to do a portrait of Bette for a mini-series called "Harvest Home" or "The Dark Secret of Harvest Home". I got to meet her and sat in her dressing room, sketching her and conversing with her. She told me about all of the famous artists who had done portraits of her, which made me even more nervous than I was already. She was smoking, which didn't bother me because I was a smoker too. I finally decided to take some photos and return to my hotel art studio. The assignment became huge and I did up to 60 drawings and 2 oil portraits, (even did one of Rossana Arquette) and was on location for 9 weeks. Quite an adventure...."
-(John N. Stewart) 

Bette Davis is absolutely one of my favorite stars and the idea that anyone that I am even in distantly connected with met her is tremendously exciting for me. I would have loved to be a fly on that hotel room's wall. I've always wondered whether the movie-commissioned paintings are done from life or photograph, and it makes me very happy to know that (in some cases, at least) they allow the artist to meet and bond with the stars. I can only imagine the plethora of stories that artists such as John can share. 

1 comment:

  1. When you meet somebody like Bette, who is bigger than life, you are actually meeting her along with a trunk load of memories about scenes from her list of films. One time I asked her for her autograph (for my daughter, of course) and she yelled at me:"I'm nobody special - we're all the same..." and refused to give me one. I went back to my art studio/hotel room and was working on a drawing. I heard a knock on the door and it was a man with an envelope. I thanked him and opened it and pulled out a large photo of her signed: "To John, from Bette Davis". What a surprise, and I respected her even more..... :)


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