La Sirena ~ A beautiful painting by artist extraordinaire, Susie Billings

Reposted by popular demand, rŌbert


Ms. Billings working a “cost plus job” on rŌbert’s baño wall.  


Our neighbor and friend, was  just starting to move into his new home overlooking the coast in Southern Baja. Every corner of this beautiful house is angular, surfaces are neutral in tone and texture, and the construction is entirely glass, steel, stone and concrete. The house is bold, strong, airy, and masculine. It embraces ocean and sky and presents an orderly contrast to the wild surrounding it.   

Understanding that the limited color palette, clean hard surfaces and linear orderly design of his new house needed a visual lift, he asked if I would do a painting: one saturated with color, soft in mood, feminine  and floral – bold but gentle and welcoming – a hand painted colorful counterpoint to all the structure of this very cool new house. It needed to be large and it needed to be a nude.(!!) And… there was a blank white 18 X 12 foot white blank wall in the front entry just waiting.

Intruiging ….but a 10’x 6’ nude? On a single canvas…yipes.   

When I sent the first photo of the newly stretched canvas to neighbor Mickey Munoz, he immediately replied “it is like paddling out in big waves and waiting for a set… surfing a blank canvas —- and  you draw your line”  

OK So here she is: LA SIRENA. A much loved stanza from Pablo Nerudas “Book of Questions” became the theme   “Are the breasts of the sirens  Spiral shells from the sea?”  

When it was time to move the painting from my not-so-large studio across the arroyo 1/2 kilometer to Bruces house, we realized she was too large to fit in a truck, the road was too rutted and bouncy to be a smart choice, and the best solution was just to walk her over. weather reports were consulted (since she would act like a sail in even a small breeze), and at 7 am on a windless baja morning willing amigos walked her over to her new home. Mostly she looked wonderful and graceful out on the beach in the early light. It was absolutely fun. She was very agreeable and easy to move. And the new large wall offered her the breathing room she had been missing in the small studio.   

…and here is a little iMovie of her journey.  

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Music by Perla Batalla 

Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Perla Batalla consistently earns critical acclaim for her unique voice and culture-merging compositions. Formerly a Leonard Cohen back-up singer, the Los Angeles born vocalist launched her solo career with Cohen’s encouragement.

a note from the client today. From the Guggenheim museum … feels like my house now.  Lucky me.


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