Carmel Magazine

Spring/Summer 2020

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C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S P R I N G / S U M M E R 2 0 2 0 111 the way our Sonoma sky looks on a good day," Ellis says. "Elizabeth has created a won- derful version of this rose that I can enjoy, and it's a great reminder of how you can find your way back from the tragedies and terri- ble things that happen." The piece is an example of Barlow's signature Portrait in Absentia style of work. Rather than painting her clients and their families, she shines a light on their treasured personal belongings— coins, toy cars, books, shoes, skates and, of course, flowers—to tell a significant story about their lives. To outline plans for the Ellis painting, Barlow sifted through hundreds of photos of the rose that were captured both before and after the fire. "Instead of creating a literal por trait of the original plant, the painting presents an idea about this rose bush," she says. "The narrative of the painting is one of beauty coming out of devastation. The rose literally grows from the ashes of this devastating fire. And, the painting will be installed in the new home that he's building, which is also a symbol of hope emerg- ing from tragedy." After Barlow and Ellis discussed initial design concepts, she ordered a custom easel big enough to accommodate such a large canvas and went to work. She painted each individual rose first—some are the size of dinner plates— 'We're so consumed by the news, and we certainly need to be informed and aware, but I also think people are deeply touched when they see something that is just uplifting for the spirit.'

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