"One layer takes one hour. There are typically twenty layers per canvas, so that's twenty to twenty-five hours. The bigger oils take longer - I work on them over six months."
Laleña L. Vann was answering my question "How long does it take to do one canvas?" And the layers she was referring to is her writing of a story, in French. One canvas, one story. Except that it is a secret story, because the overpainting makes the writing finally illegible. The word for spelling in French is "orthographe." So might we call her painting "orthographics"?
I asked Laleña if she feels gratitude toward France. "Absolutely! I came to France for the first time at age 21 after graduating from university. I toured Europe after that but always wanted to come back to France. Life got in the way, I got married, got divorced, and at age 58 I found myself realizing I could go and that it was now or never. Things really opened up for me then. I had always wanted to be here..."
Although she loves Paris, Laleña settled in Collioure where it is warmer and smaller and more intimate. (She is originally from Santa Cruz, CA.) And after her show here chez Grace, she has been invited by the exhibition space in Collioure called L'Ancien Mairie to show her paintings July 9 - August 9, 2009.
The painting pictured above is titled "Le Tibet [Tibet]" is acrylic on canvas, measures 50 x 50 cm, and was painted in 2007. (Price on request.)
Laleña's show here runs from May 16-30. See more of her work on her website www.llvann.com
(to be continued)