After looking at my artwork and reading a little bit about me, I think it goes without saying – Fiesta has become a huge inspiration for me and the art that I create. One of the aspects of The Order of the Alamo's Fiesta that I have always found so entertaining and, quite honestly, FASCINTATING, are the crazy parties that each of the Duchesses in that year’s court throw for themselves. Fiesta itself is already considered a “Coming into Society” landmark; however, the party that each Duchess’s family throws in honor of her helps raise the level of her name recognition, as well as let the rest of the Fiesta participants know what her personal style (and personality) is really like. (Not to mention, it's another reason, outside of the official week of Fiesta, to get all dressed up, socialize and have an amazing time!)
Some of you are thinking – well wouldn’t they already be able to tell her personality from her Duchess dress? Don’t you get to design or pick them yourself? No. While the girl’s preferences (which are listed on a form once she accepts her spot) are taken into consideration … the dresses themselves are already designed; the Court Artist, who is in charge of designing the dresses, is asked to do the job 3 years ahead of time (there is a different artist for each court) and starts putting together ideas almost immediately. So, by the time the dress designs are finalized, they are just matched with the girl whose preferences most align with it. Now, that being said, they CAN make some adjustments - if necessary. For example, the physical design for the dress portion of my Duchess outfit was not really possible due to the fact that the style did not allow for any alterations. If it needed to be taken in or let out, the dress maker would have had to make a whole new dress – which just isn’t possible when you could be doing final fittings up until a couple weeks before Fiesta. Anyways, this change in plans gave us the chance to put our own funky spin on it, but most girls don’t have that opportunity.
However, when it comes to the parties, the girls and their families have complete control over them. You can throw the party anywhere, anytime and with any theme! And let me tell you, there have been some crazy themes! And those parties, that had the over the top décor and theatrics, are what inspired this painting. So “Let’s Break It Down.” and explain “Let’s Get Weird.” one section at a time.
I chose a black background primarily because I wanted the subjects in the painting to pop. The other reason I chose black was because these parties often happen at night and go until all hours of morning.
The Disco Ball
I added this element because the best parties always had one! A disco ball also represents the idea of dancing – which there was always a lot of at every party. Whether it was a single DJ or multiple bands flown in from all over the country, no expense was spared, and the best of the best were brought in to ensure that the dancing didn’t stop ‘til the sun came up! However, the beautiful, glittering disco ball also represented two other things – the beauty and glamour of the outfits that the Fiesta party-goers wear, and the glittering rhinestones on the Duchess dresses themselves. Which brings me to my next point …
The Darth Vader in a Navy Tux Wearing Bunny Ears ...
No matter how crazy the theme was, people always came dressed to impress. I mean, a man in a custom fitted, navy, “James Bond” type tux – you just can’t beat it. But even dressed in designer black tie, party goers weren’t afraid to get into the theme! For example, one party was a fairy tale theme, so when you walked in, you walked through one of those spinning tunnels and when you came out on the other side … you were in Alice in Wonderland! There was a vine wall with gloved hands popping out to hand you drinks as you walked in, chandeliers hung from the trees, giant mushroom statues lurked between strange looking buffet tables, and these giant, trippy looking, vine people walked around on stilts to greet you. Did I mention this was just the theme on the lawn before you walked in? Inside the auditorium, the bar was a giant castle with a fire breathing, papier-mâché dragon that took up the entire center of the room. To the left, there was an Aladdin, Middle Eastern theme with rugs, pillows and luxurious lounge areas. To the right, there was a Peter Pan / Pirates theme – complete with a small ship that you could walk onto for a seafood buffet. And, at the front of the auditorium, was a dance floor fit for a princess. Once the party was packed with guests, costumes, funky hats, glow sticks, sunglasses and masks were handed out as party favors while the decked-out, full-on marching band paraded through the party. That party took fun themes and outrageous costumes to a-whole-nother level (which I personally found to be FABULOUS), and it was what inspired me to do a man in a sharp tux, rocking fluffy bunny ears, and a killer Darth Vader helmet (with matching gloves, of course).
The Champagne Bottles and The Over-The-Top Ice Cream Cone
Well, that decision was easy. Every Fiesta party and every Duchess party (even when it's a brunch) has an open bar. It’s Fiesta y’all. The word Fiesta literally means “Party,” and when Texans decide to do something, they do it up BIG. This also includes their buffets. At most Fiesta parties, there are so many buffets, I don’t even end up getting to half of them. Like the man in the painting, you wind up double fisting drinks and plates and whatever else you can carry back to an open seat so that you can scarf down some fuel before you hit the dance floor again.
The Flying Attack Rooster
Even though I was out of town at the time, I heard about this one Duchess who had a party where the theme was Jungle Safari… or maybe it was just a Zoo theme? I am not really sure. But, I heard all about it when I got home. She had live monkeys, koalas, exotic birds and other strange furry creatures for her guests to be able to interact with and take photos with. Weeeellll, keeping in mind this was all happening at a black-tie party, one can see how theses interactions were bound to lead to some chaos, …. while one of the girls was trying to take a photo with one of the monkeys, it started jumping on her head and pulling her hair (not to mention, it maaay have peed on her dress) … So my point in adding a flying attack rooster into the painting is that sometimes these parties skirt the line between extravagant and chaos, and well … sometimes chaos happens.
I hope you enjoyed getting to learn more about what inspired this painting and how it all came together. To learn more about my process, continue to read my blogs or visit my Videos page where you can watch “Behind the Scenes” videos of me painting. To learn more about me as an artist, go to my About the Artist page, which has my Artist’s Statement and Bio. If you would like to stay up to date on all my current projects and events, follow my Instagram page @vchampionart and my Facebook page www.facebook.com/VC.Art.
*Original sold in 2018. To purchase a print of this painting, click here.