Friday, February 28, 2014

29 Faces For February

I would like to state once more that I do NOT sell these sketches I've been doing.  They have been marvelous practice, and I've learned a lot over the past year and a quarter or so that I've been doing them. 

I'd also like to thank Ayala Art for sponsoring the 29 Faces For February challenge!  It is a blast to participate in this.  Not only have I gotten to see the work of some incredible artists of varying skill levels, but I know I have made new friends along the way.  What could be more important than that?!  

Thanks again -- and see you again next year!

29 Faces For February

"Les Miserables," continued (see earlier post for beginning)

The barricades have gone up all around Paris, and our story concerns one of them.  Marius and Enjolras, Eponine, Gavroche, and their friends have put up their barricade, and are making a stand for the Republique.  Many, many officers have been dispatched to quell the uprisings, and the battle is joined.  In order to spy on the rebels, Javert goes undercover, but is caught.  Valjean has joined them to find Marius, whom he realizes is destined to take care of Cosette when he himself must take his leave.  Valjean is given the chance to kill Javert, and be rid of his nemesis forever, but spares him.  He is a compassionate man, having changed completely when the bishop trusted him.  Meanwhile, the battle continues between the insurgents and the military.  

Enjolras and a Republique sympathizer, Grantaire.  Enjolras holds high one of the red banners that has been a hallmark of the rebellion. They knew what they were getting into, and there is no hint of apology nor fear in this act of defiance. 
Their cause is just.

Javert is undergoing a crisis the night that the battle is over. Can he endure being in the debt of an ex-con who broke parole? Can he continue to uphold the letter of the law? The Law, which has been his steadfast identity all his life, as steadfast as the stars in their season. He addresses the stars quite often. But will they answer him this time? 

Fantine sings softly to the dying Jean Valjean. He interjects his replies:

"M'sieur, I bless your name"
                         "I am ready, Fantine."
"M'sieur, lay down your burden."
                         "At the end of my days"
"You raised my child in love"
                         "She's the best of my life."
"And you will be with God."
"Come with me
Where chains will never bind you,
All your grief
At last, at last behind you.
Lord in Heaven
Look down on him in mercy."
                       "Forgive me all my trespasses
                         And take me to your glory."
"Take my hand
And lead me to salvation --
Take my love,
For love is everlasting.
And remember
The truth that once was spoken:
To love another person
Is to see the face of God!"

(Credits to Boublil and Schonberg)

And ultimate credit to the master of it all: Victor Hugo, author of the original Les Miserables.

This quick sketch is from a painting that Hugo obviously sat for.  If I can find out who the artist was, I'll come back to give proper credits .  
(Still having problems getting a name for the painter.  Seems like it was done in 1899, though.  I'll keep on trying!)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

29 Faces For February

"Les Miserables," continued  (For first installment, see entry of February 14, 2014)

Marius is involved with a group of young men who want to see an end to the returned monarchy and restoration of the Republic.  They meet over a wine shop and plan their moment to protest.  A popular public figure, General Lamarque, supports their cause but is near death.  It is decided to strike their demonstration during his funeral procession.  

The people line the streets, and during the procession, begin to sing, softly at first, then more vigorously.  The scene ends with Marius and the group's leader, Enjolras, waving a red flag, symbolic of the rebellious uprising.  

"Do you hear the people sing, singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people who will NOT be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart echoes the beating of the drums,
There is a life about to start when tomorrow comes!"

(These are just quick, rough sketches, done in one afternoon.  I left stray lines in, on purpose.)

The firebrand of the group, Enjolras, after the spirited song and flag waving.  The crowd is psyched for the uprising, and he is slightly out of breath. He wears a tricolor floret made with the bleu, blanche et rouge (blue, white and red) that were the colors of the French Revolution.

                                          Enjolras, played by Aaron Tveit.

Friday, February 21, 2014

29 Faces For February

Nine years have elapsed since Cosette escaped from the wicked people who were keeping her, and she has grown to the flower of young womanhood in the safety of the convent where Valjean has been working.  Recently, they have moved on to regular Parisian life, funded by money Valjean had hidden before their seclusion.  On a charitable excursion one day in early June of 1832, Valjean and Cosette are in the vicinity of a crowd of citizens listening to some young men talking of bringing down the monarchy.   The French Revolution had done that decades earlier, but a couple of years before this part of the story, the monarchy had returned. Many people were upset.  These young men, students, were agitating for support in their quest for a return of the Republic.  One of them notices Cosette and falls in love at first sight.  He catches her eye, and she feels the same.  
(Seriously, if I had been in the Parisian mob at that time, I would have killed her for the bonnet she was wearing.  I LOVED it... but since it's the 29 FACES challenge, not 29 Hats, I minimized the bonnet and concentrated on her pretty face.  Trust me, the bonnet was gorgeous.)

                                            Cosette, played by Amanda Seyfried.

                  Marius Pontmercy, seeing Cosette for the first time, played by Eddie Redmayne.

Marius has a friend who is sympathetic to the Republicans' cause, and she is none other than the child of the horrid Thenardiers.   Her name is Eponine,  and she has sunk pretty low under their tutelage.   But all she does in their con games is keep a watch out for the police.   She recognizes Cosette, who used to live with her, so when Marius asks Eponine to find out where the pretty girl lives, she agrees to do it for him.  He is clueless that Eponine is in love with him! 

      Here, Eponine realizes that Marius will never love her.  Played by Samantha Barks.

In Paris there is a street urchin named Gavroche.  He knows all the ins and outs of street life, hangs out with the young men plotting the rebellion, fervently sympathizes with their cause, and heads up a band of his own street urchins.  

The plucky Gavroche, who frequently proves "what little people can do."  
He sports the tricolor floret used as a badge by Republique supporters.  Portrayed by Daniel Huttlestone. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

29 Faces For February

As you will recall (from the previous two posts, see below)  Fantine has a child being boarded with an innkeeper and his wife, the Thenardiers.  Two horrid, reprehensible people, they will cheat, thieve, and connive anyone out of their last sou, if possible.  Even their inn guests are fodder for their greed.  They have written to Fantine to send more money, because her child is ill and needs a doctor.  The child, Cosette, is not ill at all, but is being abused and neglected by those adults into whose care she was entrusted.  They have a little girl of their own, whom they pet and spoil, and basically teach to be as dishonest as they are.  Cosette is expected to do all the housework and fetch water for scraps of food, rags to wear, and no play.

Monsieur Thenardier, who is not above watering the beer with his own urine.  Yet, he is celebrated locally as "The Master of the House."  Played by Sacha Baron Cohen.

Slatternly Madame Thenardier, every bit as crooked as her husband and even more mean to Cosette.  Portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter.

Once Jean Valjean shows up to take Cosette away, willing to settle any debts for her keep,  the Thenardiers jump at the chance to get more and more money from him.  He is smart and knows their type, but treats them civilly.  Cosette knows this is her chance to escape her oppressors, and goes with him willingly.  "Will you be like a Papa to me?"

Cosette clutches a dirty rag, knotted into a rough figure.  She pretends it is a doll, and it's her only plaything.  Played by Isabelle Allen.

Valjean and Cosette escape into the night, finding refuge at a convent, where he can work for their keep, and raise the child in secluded safety.  Though he has secreted some cash away, he needs to stay hidden from the prying eyes of Inspector Javert.  His fear of being caught determines so many of his life's decisions.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

29 Faces For February

OK, then -- MORE of "Les Mis" sketches!  
(If you haven't been following, the "first installment" is the entry just below this one.)

After Jean Valjean's epiphany to become a better man, he broke parole and worked for awhile without the papers he'd had to present to warn people he was an ex-convict.   When a factory went up for sale, he purchased it.  He was no longer known as Jean Valjean, since he had left that identity behind.  He employed many people who needed honest wages, did good works, and was respected enough to be elected the mayor.  One day, a new police officer presented himself for duty, to the mayor -- it was none other than the same guard Javert, who had warned Valjean to remember him-- and he did!  Terrified that he'd be recognized by Javert,  distracted, he ignored a scuffle on the factory floor, involving some women.  He turned the matter over to the foreman, a petty, vindictive man, and a young woman who desperately needed her job was dismissed and tossed out onto the street.  She needed those wages to support her small child, whom she boarded elsewhere with an innkeeper and his wife.

Inspector Javert.   His passion for upholding the law is an obsession.  It's his sense of structure, and is as fixed as the stars are in their seasonal movements in the sky.  He is portrayed by Russell Crowe.  


"Monsieur Le Mayor" is distracted, trying not to panic, when he sees Javert in his factory office.  Played by Hugh Jackman.

The young woman, Fantine, was driven by need to send money for her child's upkeep. She sold a treasured locket, her lovely long hair, then a tooth -- and eventually her body to the randy sailors and rakes that frequent the waterfront for such business.   She recounts her fall into shame, tells us of how she fell in love years ago, and, pregnant, was abandoned.   Her naive dreams were killed -- by Life.
Portrayed by Anne Hathaway.

Friday, February 14, 2014

29 Faces for February

Oh my goodness, it's mid-February and I haven't posted since December!  I am once again doing the 29 Faces for February Challenge, and have several faces ready to show you.  (Not fourteen of them, but several, LOL.)  I'll be posting them with the 29 Faces in the subject line, and if I can ever figure out the way to get the "Linky" up here, I'll do that too.  

I have been quite taken with the subject of "Les Miserables," of late.  So, this is what will form most of the basis for my 29 Faces Challenge.  I won't do 29 faces from "Les Mis," but I intend to cover each major character at least once.  I'll toss a few others in for kicks!

Well, first things first:  When Jean Valjean was paroled after nineteen years of slave labor for stealing bread (and some escape attempts) he was told by one of the guards to remember him, as he would be remembering Valjean.  A paroled prisoner had to present papers before applying for work, for lodging, almost anything involving the law-abiding citizenry.  The papers declared each parolee to be dangerous.   Nobody wanted to give a "dangerous criminal" anything, any kind of chance.  Valjean found his way to a bench outside an abbey, to sleep upon, when the bishop discovered him and invited him inside.  He was fed, and given a bed to sleep on, gently called, "brother."  Yet in the night, Valjean stole the bishop's silver dinner service, and ran off.  Caught, he was brought back to the abbey by the gendarmes, who were surprised to hear the bishop say the silver was a gift to Valjean.  "But in your hurry, you forgot to take the best!" and put two large, elegant silver candlesticks into Jean's sack with the rest.  When the police left, the bishop told Jean Valjean to go forth and become an honest man, using the silver for good deeds.  "I have saved your soul for God."

Rocked to the core, having never experienced such kindness and trust from a stranger, Valjean vows to cast aside the man he was, and become a new, better person.  He shreds his papers, assumes a new identity, and violates his parole, slipping into the population of France. 

More tomorrow!