In this post I document the process of painting of The Friendship Club. This painting is part of my Foremothers Project. https://robinbrooksart.com/figure-collage/ My painting of The Friendship Club shows a group of Jewish elders including my Great Aunt Fannie along with a visitor, me, at the dining table in Fannie’s Miami Beach apartment. It’s worth noting that the photo it is based on was taken by my sister Susan. Susan and I had flown to Florida partly for a vacation but also to visit with our great aunt. Fannie and her friends were all nonagenarians. Yet they were still very politically aware and concerned about the world around them. “Did we support women’s Right to Choose?,” and “Did you cross the airline workers picket line?,” were two of the questions Susan recalls being asked that day.

Susan and I met with Fannie and her friends during the visit in April of 1990. While we were there, Fannie told us about her group of friends and their sustaining community. I wish I could recall more details about the Friendship Club to share with you. But the photo, and my finished painting, speaks volumes about the meaning and value of our heart-felt human connections.

Day 1 Painting the Friendship Club

Friendship Club Day 1: Roughing in the composition

Here’s how the painting looked after the first day. Starting, I brushed in gestural strokes, taking my cues from the photo. My medium is acrylic paints on a 24 inch square wooden panel. Continuing, I established the arrangement, or composition. You may note that I have tilted the plane of the table so the table top is visible. Along placing the people around the table, I am establishing the color palette. Because it’s Miami Beach and near the ocean, my colors include strong blues and warm sunny tones.

Friendship Club day two, Still rough. I am starting to refine the forms and spaces.

Continuing the next day, I used soft vine charcoal or white chalk to refine forms and faces. Often I will paint a form several times until it hugs the space just right. Using matte medium, I gradually added layers of semi-transparent color. Along with luminous color, I am striving for lively brushwork and enough detail to bring this group portrait of the Friendship Club to life. Interestingly, Fannie’s apartment was in a subsidized high rise for elderly residents of Miami Beach. As I progress, I want to capture the feelings of love and friendship that filled Fannie’s dining room on that sunny afternoon. Please stay tuned for more updates.

The Painting Evolves

Friendship Club Day 3, painting in process, detail showing Aunt Fannie, August 10, 2021
The Friendship Club, process photo, Day 5, August 11, 2021

The Original Photo taken by Susan Brooks

Susan’s photo of the Friendship Club at the table, taken during our visit to Fannie’s apartment in Miami Beach, Florida in April, 1990

One More Photo from that Day

Susan Brooks, second from left, next to Aunt Fannie with the Friendship Club at Fannie’s apartment, Miami Beach, April 1990

Finally, the Finished Painting!

Painting Fannie’s Friendship Club brought me closer to my Great Aunt Fannie and helped me see dimensions of myself that come from her spirit. Bringing people together has always brought me joy, especially around a festive meal. Perhaps the experience of being with Aunt Fannie with her friends on that sunny April afternoon is an image I have carried with me all these years. So you can imagine how much joy it gives me share this experience through the painting and the story that accompanies it..

The Friendship Club with Aunt Fannie, Fannie’s Friends, and the Artist, 1990, acrylic on panel, 24″ x 24″, 2021

This painting is part of my Foremothers Project

The Foremothers Project is an ongoing exploration of how we become who we are are as women, creatives, activists, and risk-takers. To see more of my Foremothers artwork, please visit my Foremothers gallery. https://robinbrooksart.com/stories-of-foremothers/ To read more stories, explore my Foremothers Blog posts.

Participate! Share Your Foremothers Story.

This is an invitation to participate in the Foremothers Project by sharing your own story of an inspiring foremother. Please consider leaving a comment on this page or email me at robinellenb@gmail.com. Thank you for visiting!