Magnolias and Strange Fruit

I am still working on the portrait drawing of my son and waiting for the first of the fixative/matte medium/adhesive/leafing/varnish layers to dry.  In the meantime, I have started a full-size preliminary sketch for my next drawing (48 x 25 inch drawing on a 60 x 40 inch sheet of paper). I usually sketch on large sheets of Canson Vidalon Vellum (a high grade tracing paper that comes in a 36-inch-wide roll) that I overlay and shift around until I am satisfied with the composition.   When the preliminary sketch is finished, I transfer the outlines to my sheet of watercolor paper and start the final drawing.  (Thorough details about the papers I use and why are located in my blog on paper).
This next drawing stems from my grandmother's death last year, my obsession and disenchantment with the "Old South", and the sense of identity that originates from my native soil.  And, as such, it will have plenty of magnolias and a little bit of cotton.
I have been reminiscing on All That Is Southern; this fixation has partly to do with the subject of the newest drawing, but in truth my reminiscing happens every summer.  Perhaps it is the summer heat that reminds me of my childhood in Georgia as well as my ancestral family homesteads in North and South Carolina.  Perhaps it is the fact that I am excited about my upcoming annual visit southward and the recharge that I get from being back in my beloved hometown of Athens, Georgia.
At any rate, as part of the reflecting upon my grandmother's death and all of this reminiscing on All That Is Southern, I have also been thinking more objectively about my grandmother.
Well, I have always been a little objective about her...she was the embodiment of the Old South in ideology and in belief:  truly, if she had not died in March of last year, she would surely have keeled over on the morning of November 5th.  We had many vehement disagreements on politics and social issues through the years that led me to hold a lot of anger towards her, but all in all she was my grandmother and the only grandparent with whom I was close.
This conflict of love and hate has become the springboard for the newest drawing.
Now for a relevant and visually influential southern tangent: two scenes from the 1955 film noir classic Night of the Hunter: a flash of Robert Mitchum's "LOVE" and "HATE" tattooed hands as well as the vision of Shelly Winter's floating hair as she rests in her underwater grave:

Yes indeedy, I will be stealing that floating hair...

Ah, the South.  It is an enigmatic place and although I have been north of the Mason-Dixon line for over a decade, I have not lost my sense of connection to its complex history and the dual, dueling nature of love and hate.
While cleaning up my studio and organizing reference photos, I have shuffled through years of my own photographs documenting the nooks and crannies of the Deep South.  And, it has dawned on me that some of these images are a little amusing, a little strange, and visually rather interesting. So, for the next few months I will have sporadic posts of Magnolias and Strange Fruit:  these will be musings about Southern artists, places and things, random observations, and a few oddities ~ all of those places and things that influence, intertwine, and underpin many of the drawings that I create.
In the meantime, I simply have to muse on one* thing that I miss about the South: the purely magical and delicious fragrance of a blossoming magnolia tree on a cool night breeze.
I always pick the magnolia's flowers even though they quickly bruise and do not last very long.  I have also photographed them until they literally are falling apart:
Now to start drawing them...
*Only my yearning for proper barbecue surpasses my yearning for the magnolia tree
A quick thank you to Traci D for dragging me to the theater to see the restored "Night of the Hunter" all those years ago - the movie still gives me chills...and the references appear in the most magnificent places.