Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Murder in the Birches No. 2, oil on linen, 46 x 54, © Sioban Lombardi, 2010

No artist can deny the influence of his or her personal life when conceiving work. It seeps in despite the most universal of issues that you may be expressing. This does not mean art making is always autobiography. It can be, but the presence of the artist is already intrinsic in the authorship. In fact, autobiography veiled as fiction can be the most tedious, self-important and unsuccessful work. In my own experience the illusion painting creates is itself a fiction. Best to leave fiction and autobiography separate.

Back to the seeping in, over the past few months I have been listening to old radio mysteries while painting. They mediate my focus without visually distracting me from the task at hand. The sparse language in the radio dramas provides just enough information to afford one’s own visual interpretation. Most of the dramas are mid-twentieth century and could be categorized as Noir. Customarily, my paintings have been non-narrative, but this genre was too rich to pass up. Thus I began Murder in the Birches, a noir narrative in paint, and I am soliciting your contributions to the narrative. It will be interesting to see if certain tropes that have already been suggested are generally prevalent.

As I said, you will find certain facts about the narrative below. Please submit your suggestions to mailto:murderinthebirches@gmail.com in the form of non-descriptive facts. For example, “even as a child, Marion had been unattractive” is correct. “Marion had always been ugly; possessing a flat face, a broad nose, weak chin and plain brown eyes” is too descriptive - you have to let me do my work.. Your sentences will determine one or multiple story lines. Submit as often as the Muse permits. Feel free to contribute characters as well.

Here are the established facts:

Isabel and Marion are the murderers.

They have been friends since childhood.

Isabel is beautiful with red hair and green eyes.

Marion is ugly.

They murder Dirk, in a birch grove.

Dirk is Isabel’s husband.

Tommy is the only witness.

As the paintings progress, I will post images and the developing story here. Thanks, and now its time to get to work.


  1. Tommy has unrequited love for one of the women.

  2. Great painting! Very mysterious....

    Marion helped Isabel because she's secretly in love with her.