The Big Read Blog (Archive)

Art Inspiring Art

Brunswick, Georgia’s Golden Isles Arts and Humanities Association has partnered with the McIntosh Art Association in nearby Darien to showcase artworks by local artists who were inspired by the community's Big Read selection, The Maltese Falcon. Today, we look at two of the pieces from this exhibition and hear from the talented artists Carly Hardy and Betty Vaughn, both of whom were inspired by the novel's beautiful femme fatale, Miss Wonderly.

Birds of Prey, 20x16 oil on canvas, by Carly Hardy. Photo courtesy of the artist

Carly Hardy on her painting Birds of Prey and The Maltese Falcon:

I try to capture the emotional content of the subject more than the reality of it. Using color for harmony, texture, and abstraction, Birds of Prey uniquely combine the cloaked figure of Wonderly with the falcon. While reading, I saw her character portrayed in different lights...the innocent who seemed a victim and the murderer who killed out of her desire to attain the prize. The falcon kills out of need, while Wonderly kills out of want. Both became birds of prey.

The painting is captured in a nouveau style, breaking down shapes that blend into one another. Is Wonderly's cloak a part of the bird, or is the bird's wing overlapping her cloak? Her face is shadowed, keeping the reader contemplating her game until the final chapter....the falcon watches alert to her every move. As the plot thickens, they become intertwined---a part of one another.

Wonderly’s Weapons, by Betty Vaughn. Photo courtesy of the artist

Betty Vaughn on how she became an artist and how The Maltese Falcon inspired her painting Wonderly’s Weapons:

I have been painting in oils and acrylics for about ten years, starting after I retired from a 30-year banking career in Atlanta. Sally, my eight-year-old granddaughter and an artist from early childhood, would visit us. On one such visit she decided that I should paint with her, making her my first art teacher. Sally is now 18 and graduating from high school---she has already been accepted to the School of Visual Arts in New York City and the Art Institute of Chicago to begin this fall.

I painted Wonderly’s Weapons (an acrylic painting of the actual gun described in the book and the red lips that I imagined belonging to Miss Wonderly) as my rendition of The Maltese Falcon.

This detective story appealed to me for several reasons, but primarily because of the strong woman (Wonderly) character. Miss Wonderly was able to manipulate and get what she wanted done, not only because of her femininity, but also because she was willing to go after what she wanted with a passion. Another interesting part of the book was the greed factor and how destructive people are willing to be to human life to obtain the thing that they most desire---whether it be wealth, fame, or another person’s wife. Although the book was fiction, it held a lot of truths.

To learn more about The Maltese Falcon, visit The Big Read website.



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