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  • Writer's pictureKatie Deal

The Baroness with a Brush

Updated: May 24, 2018

I awoke from a sound sleep feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day. I reached for my phone to check the time, fully expecting that it would read 7 am or roundabouts. I'm by no means a morning person, so you can imagine my surprise when I woke to find that it was 2:52 am! I'd only been asleep for about 3 hours. But I was awake so I decided to start my day early.

Just a few weeks ago I stumbled across a video about polyphasic sleep. It sounded interesting but I didn't seriously consider it. With the exception of my 20s, I've always been an 8-hour sleeper that needs coffee to lift the morning (or afternoon) fog. But I did think the idea was fascinating since all these incredibly productive and intelligent people followed this sleep cycle like Nikola Tesla, Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin and even P.Diddy, to name a few. I made a joke on Facebook this morning about it...

So here I am up at 3 am, making coffee and trying to decide what to do that won't require turning on a lot of lights and making a ton of noise. (I'm not very stealthy.) And I decide, I'll hop online and do a little work-related research. When I open my browser, the Google Doodle for the day stopped me right there. Instantly, I recognized the artwork to be celebrating the birthday of my all-time favorite artist, Tamara de Lempicka. Now, I'm not a fine art connoisseur by any means but I love what I love. I had a poster throughout college of de Lempicka's "Young Lady with Gloves." For years, the young lady and Wassily Kandinsky's "Squares With Concentric Circles" hung prominently in every place I called home. I wonder, whatever happened to those prints?

Anyway, I couldn't resist diving into the world of de Lempicka. I knew nothing of her until today but boy, was she fascinating?! She was born in Warsaw on May 16, 1898 to a Polish socialite and a Russian Jewish attorney who met while traveling. She began painting at age ten after being forced to sit for a portrait that she found unimpressive. I guess she thought she could do better. A few years later, her grandmother took her on a tour of Italy and it must have sparked her interest in travel and art because she spent most of her life thereafter painting and traveling. At age 17, she met and fell in love with Tadeusz Lempicki, a Polish attorney. They married a year later but in 1917, Tadeusz was arrested during the Russian Revolution. Following his release, they fled to several locations, finally landing in Paris. Money was tight, they had a child, and her sister encouraged her to study painting at the Académie de la Grand Chaumière. This was apparently the right move, as she became a major player in the Art Deco movement of the 20s and 30s. She and Tadeusz divorced in 1928. That same year, she met Raoul Kuffner and was commissioned to paint his mistress. According to Wikipedia, she did what was asked but allegedly painted a very unflattering portrait of the mistress. de Lempicka then promptly took the mistress's place by Kuffner's side. After his wife died in 1933, (I know this sounds like a soap opera!) Kuffner and de Lempicka married. They moved to Hungary to avoid Nazi invasion and then to the United States in 1939 to distance themselves from WWII.

There's much more to her story, which you can read here or on Wikipedia. Basically, she lived a remarkable life as a strong-willed, confident and adventurous woman. That's what I call a wildflower! She died in Cuernavaca, Mexico and had her ashes scattered over an active volcano. What a life, right?! She accomplished so much, it makes me wonder, was she a polyphasic sleeper?! If so, is that the secret to success...extra hours in the day to work on your craft? Well, I've spent a good two and a half, maybe three hours immersed in the life and art of de Lempicka. I'm not sure this is honing my craft of music and songwriting but I feel that this time getting to know more about this extraordinary wildflower was definitely time well spent. I love the quote on her home page, "Do not copy. Create a new style." Perhaps this is the inspiration I needed today, to continue painting my own portrait, a picture of how I want to see myself. I'm not a replica but an original.

I hope this blog post inspires you in some way. In celebration of an amazing woman and all the gorgeous ladies Tamara de Lempicka immortalized in her work, I say, Za piękne panie!

Don't forget to check out her artwork! And to learn more about me, please visit my website and follow me on Facebook!

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