Mattie in the Morning Glories
Although she is best known for her memory paintings, Mattie Lou O’Kelley often painted subjects from life. This is the eighty-four-year-old artist’s matter-of-fact representation of herself. The composition’s symmetrical, flattened forms and the subject’s rigid pose and solemn expression evoke the work of the limner painters, self-taught portraitists of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century America. Assisted by the figure’s geometric simplicity, the trio of astringent green, pink, and yellow disrupts what might otherwise be a cloying scene.