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Mata Hari

The original sketch of Mata Hari was drawn as an experimental illustration for my short story Preservation. Mata Hari was an entertainer and exotic dancer in the late 1890s and early 1900s. She was executed by firing squad for allegedly being a French/German double agent during WW1, though there is no hard evidence that she was a spy at all. There are some amazing tinted photographs of her in Hindu-inspired costume, jewelled bras and body stockings; the transparent, veiled skirts must have been scandalous for the time. A friend liked the 20-minute pen sketch, so I replicated the tints of the photographs in Photoshop and had the coloured version framed as a wedding gift.

Original sketch in black pen (20 minutes)
A postcard of the real Mata Hari 

The sketch itself is rough but I think the frame makes the most of what is available. It is the oddest feeling framing an unfinished artwork, but I’m beginning to learn that sometimes it is the 15 minute scribbles at hold the most charm and overworking a piece isn’t necessarily going to improve it. I think the image lost some its finer detail through the digitisation and printing process. The softness that comes from being backlit on a computer screen actually improved the image due to its limited colour palette and I had some trouble finding a printer that could preserve the tonal range. Regardless of these hiccups, it is nice to see my artwork behind glass.

Framing an image that is outside the standard dimensions (in this case, narrower than A4) was surprisingly expensive. Choosing the right matting seems to be an art form unto itself. I’d love to know how to do this professionally as it would greatly enhance my knowledge of colour theory. For this piece I chose a dull purple matt to compliment the tans and browns in the image. The frame has hints of gold and an ornate pattern suitable for the time period, but isn’t too overpowering. The woman in the framing workshop wanted a gold floral patterned frame, but I thought this would clash with the linear hatching in the artwork.

The drawing tinted in Photoshop.

The final print professionally framed.



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