Thursday, November 21, 2013

LVD Project Research

I've started doing some background research on the life and times of LVD (my mother, Lytton Virginia Davis), for this, this... whatever it is I'm doing, water-coloring pictures about her. 

This art project. 
Painting her life in pictures (from the perspective of knowing it ended with her shooting herself dead). The great thing about pictures, of course, is you don't have to rely on words, which are insufficient on their own.

My time is pretty open right now, and I've been feeling a little unpleasantly aimless. What, I thought, if I dignified this project with the same research I give to my hack work?  

When I was working on the geography series for kids––(the books kids use to write reports about countries, or used to use, before the Internet)––I read novels, watched films, cooked recipes, listened to music from the country I was writing about, even though little or none of that would make it into the book. 

But I was interested, and maybe that made the books a bit better, though honestly, I'm not sure it did. I'm afraid it may have contributed clutter and confusion rather than clarity.
(Of course that's reality: countries, and people, are cluttered and confused, but it wasn't the intent of the series to show that.) 

Anyway, I thought I might plunk in here some of the background stuff I dig up.
Like, this is the cover of the Life magazine my father was holding in my "LIFE" watercolor. 
It's the 25th anniversary issue, from December 26, 1960:

 This double-tulip silver pin by Georg Jensen is not the one my mother is wearing in that same picture, but it is one she owned. 


Research is fun, but this story can get pretty cruddy sometimes. I caught a cold a couple days ago. Not to make too much of this; it is November, after all. Still, getting a stuffed-up head felt about right.

I'm not sure how to handle some of the darker stuff about my mother's life and death, both for my sake, hers, and any viewers'.
It's not a question of whether or not to depict anything really graphically disturbing. I'm not interested in that myself: I never looked at the police photos of the death scene, for instance.
But there are some hard parts that I want to depict, and it feels right and fitting to depict them. 

I'd already found images of her gun a couple years ago (wrote about it here). Yesterday I googled images of hollow-tip bullets, which she used.

I found these surprising photos of the bullets after impact: they open up like flower petals. 

These horrible things are pretty, aren't they? They remind me of the floral design on this Japanese manhole cover.

I think I'll use them as a border for the obituary I'm water-coloring, if I can stand to.


The Crow said...

How do I tell you that I love what you are doing with this topic, your mother's life and death, without sounding ghoulish or lacking in compassion for, or understanding of, the difficulty it presents?

I wish I were close enough to give you a good hug.

Zhoen said...

Maybe if Crow and I send virtual hugs from both sides…?

Fresca said...

I consider myself virtually hugged!
Thank you both.