Wednesday, March 04, 2015

the illuminated oscars

Welcome, traveler, and let me take you to a time so deep in your memory that we can only access it via hypnosis, which I am going to do to you now. Yes. I'm going to do hypnosis to you.

Let your eyelids become heavy.
They want to close.
They can't. Stop them. You're reading something.
Let them almost close.
Let it be so that someone on the ceiling would look down and wonder, "Are that person's eyes closed?"
Think of what you had for lunch yesterday.
You're going back in time.
Now, go farther.
Go back three days.
What sorts of clothes were you wearing?
Were the styles different?
What were hemlines like?
What sorts of cars did people drive?
It was an earlier time. You are there.
Now, go farther.
Three days farther back.
Don't be upset with yourself if you can't see much.
We are talking about a far back time.
Just feel what it was like back there. Feel the feelings of it.
Were you struggling?
What might you have been struggling against?
Might it have been the elements?
You may have been a farmer, or a sailor.
It's time to leave this time. Let go of the struggle.
We're going farther back now.
I don't know when you're reading this,
so I don't fucking know how far back this is going to have to be
so I'm calling it at three more days.

We're going back three more days.

The printing press.
The plague.
The Renaissance.
Genghis Khan.

Open your eyes.
Look around you.

It is February 22nd, 2015. You are there. Yes! Believe it! It is the 87th Annual Academy Awards, prior to the existence of photographers, probably, in such a long-ago news cycle. You see people dressed in the shiniest clothing of their time moving along what appears to be a river of blood, or juice, or nail polish. They are like gods and goddesses! Feast your eyes because you won't retain this because memory is fickle and you live in March 2015 or beyond. Let yourself feel sad because you don't know what good fortune brought you here to this Holy Red River of Celebrities, even though you know full well it was me and my amazing hypnotizing. In any case, you know that nothing lasts.

Except this! What you see before your eyes is—oh, shit, I have to bring you back to the present. BANG! 

I threw a brick on the floor to wake you up.

Except this! What you see before your eyes is The Illuminated Oscars, a hand-illuminated document hand-illuminated by an ancient artisan, because it is even fancier and older and farther back in time to illuminate than it is to illustrate. These pictures are now preserved forever. That ancient artisan, by the way, was I. Long did I toil, armed only with Paintbrush®™, anal-retentively hand-pixeling every pearl and tassel and square-inch of tulle, which, by the way, was the most fun I've nearly ever had. I have a passion for it! I have a passion for making dumb drawings of ladies, and I always have.

(Drawing men I find very difficult. When it comes time to draw men, I have to fight the instinct to just pile squares on top of rectangles and give them frowny eyebrows and call it a day. But I wrestled my weakness to honor one man today. My drawing does not look like this man! But none of these drawings necessarily look like anybody, so he's in good company.)

Enough! Let's go.

Normally, procedure would be to open a post like this with talk of Giuliana Rancic and Kelly Osbourne, but when you're illustrating the thing yourself,  you cut to the goddamn chase. There will be no spare people in this post. (Giuliana Rancic and Kelly Osbourne! You are not spare people to the people who love you. You are only spare here.) I've chosen only the people who spoke to me on some level, whether it was because I loved their outfits or I have strong feelings for them as individuals.

Except, uh, with this one. I'm opening with Meryl Streep because I had this idea that I was going to illustrate each of the female nominees, and I started down that line but then Laura Dern's dress was too metallic and complicated, so I changed course. But I'd already done Meryl Streep. She's also first here because hers was the first drawing I made and thus the clumsiest. It's only upward from here! Maybe. I'm sorry, Meryl Streep. You don't deserve to look like this. Anyway, there you are in exactly the kind of thing you would wear.

Greetings, Emma Stone! The color of your dress was so perplexing, somewhere between stomach acid and pee. This says a lot about your general beauty and seasonal color awareness, because there are probably four people in the world who can wear that shade and not have people run at them with a mop and bucket. (God, I was nervous to represent your knee. Who draws knees when you can draw pants and skirts that cover them? But that business kind of looks like a knee, right? This good knee luck will never happen again, as you will soon see.)

I may not always love watching Scarlett Johansson act, because it bugs me that the kind of husky voice she has is supposed to be the only kind of sexy voice in the world, HI OH WHOA I TALK LIKE SULTRY TURKISH COFFEE I'M GOING TO SAY SOMETHING ELSE IN AN EVEN LOWER REGISTER WHOOOA MUDSLIDE, but she sure does have a sick body. And her voice didn't bother me in Her. And she was pretty good in Don Jon. (We won't discuss Match Point.) (I HATED MATCH POINT.) (And that's all I'll say.) I don't have to feel one way about her. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Somebody said that once, probably in a normal voice like everybody normal has.

I'd like to just briefly give the finger, by the way, to whomever it was that caused this year's red carpet trend of actresses wearing their hair slicked back, or pulled back tight in buns. I began these drawings before the red carpet was underway since I wanted to save time and I had an idea who I was going to draw, and so I took some risks and guessed at some hairstyles. Obviously this was stupid, and I had to erase a lot of hair. Anyway, updos and slicked-back hair are hard to draw, you bastards. Anybody who wore it down this year,  I love you more than I love the others.

This is all to say that Scarlett Johansson is the sexiest green vegetable in the world here. The fit of the dress, the verdant bib-jewels, it's all so good. If she hadn't slicked back her hair, I would consider mailing her a twenty dollar bill.

What a very interesting summer picnic Keira Knightley went to at the Oscars. What a rustic, rustic picnic. Pregnancy is well known for  making people dress as though they're wandering about in a meadow, and Keira Knightley is cashing in that chip very hard. She has words on her dress. Perhaps the dress is like a literary Baby Mozart deal, nourishing her child in utero. Her dress appears to be made out of very natural paper towels. But I think it's probably cloth, because I don't know if you've ever tried to embroider your paper towels, but you give up in frustration after a couple of hours.

Here comes a game! See if you can see what part of the body I'm trying not to draw because they're hard.

I was this close to giving David Oyelowo a giant bubble of gum for him to blow that obscured most of his face because this doesn't look like him. Like, at all. Well, we knew this would happen. He's a man! But I had to draw him because he looked so thrilling in his cranberry finery. I spent approximately ninety hours trying to get his stubble right, and then I had to admit defeat and move on. Just be glad he's not a square on a rectangle.

La la la, hurray! Lady Gaga has absolutely everything going for her here as far as I'm concerned. One of the Three Musketeers lent her his dish gloves, and the ocean sent a starfish to her house to personally hand her The Little Mermaid's very best coral scrunchie to wear for the occasion. In a good way! Her dress is in a delightful new shape, and even though I cursed its texture as I drew it, it gave me Japanese fairy tale feelings.

Do you remember when she sang "The Sound of Music"? She opened her mouth and there it was, the sound of music. I kept waiting for something different to happen, but it didn't, and she just sang it, and while there was debate about how well she sang it, I don't know anything about special singing facts so she sounded like she was singing it great to me.

Sweet, adorable Lorelei Linklater from the real best movie of the year, which was of course Boyhood, I couldn't get your face right either. I really kind of fucked you up. I apologize.

Oh, Lorelei, your body language killed me with your little hunched-up shoulders, so beautifully not-red-carpet-practiced. And your slit up-to-there and your sheer bodice made me feel so maternal I almost got pregnant looking at you. Oh, heavens! My baby! Cover up! What's happening?! Are you using condoms? Is your boyfriend going to to be that party? Don't tell me! No, tell me! I'm not slut-shaming her, so don't start. She can do what she likes. But you can't stop my uterus from contracting about it.

Game time! If you guessed "hands", you guessed right. This is where I gave them one last go and then gave up. I let her flip me off with her wilting hand as one little parting gesture of protest about my poor hand-drawing skills.

 I loved Margot Robbie's look so much that—what do you know?—my heart flew out of my chest and got all convenient up there.

If you think there's something more difficult than doing justice to Lupita Nyong'o in Paintbrush when you're not even properly an artist, then you're wrong, unless you're talking about dealing with cancer or scaling Everest or being a single mom or a coal miner or a lot of other things. After this post, I expect there will be a law passed that you're not allowed to draw Lupita Nyong'o unless you get a special certificate. But, again, I had no choice. Lupita Nyong'o in a dress made of pearls? I'm supposed to pretend like that didn't happen? 

*Little known fact: the skirt portion of the dress was not a skirt but an actual basket full of pearls, which is of course why she's sticking her hands in there. There aren't any other reasons. 

You guys, if you could have SEEN the gestures Rosamund Pike was making all the way down the red carpet, you would have fainted. They were so obscene. I could not in good conscience show them here. Also, this is where my knee luck ran out. She looks like she fell down over and over in the weeks leading up to the Oscars. She may require surgery, even. 

Fuckin' Felicity Jones dress texture pearls in cups all over the fuckin' top, GOD. GOD, NOMINEES with your TEXTURES. She was born with triangles for hands, so that's sad. 

Well, so listen. Nobody bitches about the Venus de Milo. If Marion Cotillard wanted arms she should have worn a dress without a repeating pattern. 

It's bright here around Nicole Kidman. This "photograph" is "overexposed". You don't really know what's going on with her right hand, and her left hand, hey, if it grew into her dress and a flower grew out of it, are we going to be able to verify that?  

Some people thought her red belt ruined her outfit, but her red belt is WHY I'VE TAKEN THE TIME TO DRAW HER ASS IN THE FIRST PLACE so they're wrong. 

Congratulations to Julianne Moore for winning Best Actress and being wonderful all the time! Condolences to Julianne Moore about that super-localized raincloud and carnivorous plant that follow her around everywhere. And, finally, my thanks to Julianne Moore and Chanel for keeping the texture to a bit of a low roar. 

Hoo boy. So. Patricia Arquette is somebody that I generally adore, and she deserved that Oscar, and I was thrilled along with everybody else when she spoke from the podium about the ERA, and then I'm in the camp that says she fucked it up in the backstage interviews. And then she fucked it up again with her response on Twitter afterwards, all "Don't tell me about privilege because I grew up poor." STOP SAYING THAT, FELLOW WHITE PEOPLE. JESUS. THERE'S ECONOMIC PRIVILEGE AND THERE'S RACIAL PRIVILEGE. THEY ARE DIFFERENT. IF YOU ARE WHITE, YOU HAVE ONE OF THEM EVEN IF YOU GREW UP EATING PEBBLES AND LIVING IN A BOOT. 



 She wore stuff, and I don't know. I'm done. 

Let's kick back with some Behati Prinsloo. She had the easiest pulled-back hair to draw of the night. And isn't it nice to get to erase Adam Levine from a thing? (I just said that to make friends. That was wrong. Everybody hates him a lot, but I have to really be me. I kind of like the guy. He makes me laugh. I watch him on the teevee with Blake Shelton. I wish Blake Shelton were at the Oscars. I'd draw that guy, if you know what I mean. I mean that he's very sexy and that I would have sex with him. Except his wife would shoot me and Dave would be mad. But maybe they wouldn't if I asked them not to! DON'T SHOOT ME AND BE MAD, I'M JUST GOING TO HAVE SEX WITH HIM REALLY QUICK AND THEN STOP!) 

I hold the super unusual opinion that the Victoria's Secret Angel known as Behati Prinsloo is very pretty. I love the ballerina-esque thing happening here, and even more so expressed in red and black like this, and I enjoy her Flintstones necklace. Somebody played a goof on Behati Prinsloo and Adam Levine, though, by putting glue at the bottom of their swag bags. Whoops! (I should have written "swag" on those but I wrote "loot" instead. At the Oscars, they give you a little paper bag on the red carpet just like you get at a kid's birthday party. It's got bouncy balls in it, and fake tattoos. You couldn't pay me to change those bags at this point, though. But you can make me some offers anyway.) 

Ol' Reese Witherspoon is over here blowing nobody's minds again in a neat, trim dress. Sun's setting in the same place tonight. Death, taxes. I should have angled the black trim at the top the other way, but guess what? I should have done a lot of things differently in this life. 

Flying saucer flew by. 

Hannah Bagshawe is who, and she's the beloved of Eddie Redmayne, who won Best Stephen Hawking. There is SO MUCH TEXTURE here but that's why I loved this dress! Feather awnings, what?! Great! I didn't begrudge one pixel here. 

Some of you younger people might not know about Soap-on-a-Rope. Now you do.  

Who turned down the klieglights or the sun or what have you on the red carpet near Gwyneth Paltrow? Her pale pink dress did, that's who. Like I'm going to change all the background colors in all the other pictures for just her one dress so she doesn't disappear in a wall of pink. Dream on, hosers. She can stand around in dim light for a second. It's probably good for her skin. She can bask in the bright glow of that probably very detoxifying lemon. 

Many people objected to this dress and the giant flower shoulder growth. Yeah, well, lots of people object to Goop but I've asked for that fucking thing to show up in my inbox every week. I've had the flu followed by bronchitis and I've been sick for a month, and all I ever want when I'm sick is to live in a world where Downton Abbey and Goop come together and I can ring for Carson and say, CARSON! Please make Gwyneth bring me one of those Moon Juice smoothies she talked about in the newsletter last Thursday, and I also want some of the Spirit Truffles and chocolate Sex Bark. I am peevish and unwell. She should bring me some bone broth, too. I'll take my dinner in my redesigned yoga gazebo.

I like the dress. I like it. You want to fight? Wait until I'm over this asthma and then we can fight. 

Oh, god. Fuck it, you know? Sometimes good enough is good enough. 

I'm a little bit sorry I made Cate Blanchett's hair look like Guy Fieri's hair, but not a lot bit sorry. 

"What the hell is Lena Dunham doing here?" you might ask, right after you ask, "Who the hell is that?" Well, listen, anybody can "be" at the "Oscars" when it's all happening in a fake cartoon. A dear friend of mine expressed the wish that Lena Dunham could have been at the Oscars so she could see what she wore when she read this post. So Lena Dunham WAS at the Oscars and she wore TRIANGLES.  

And who on earth is this? Since we've established that anything goes on this fakey-wakey red carpet, C'EST MOI, CLOWNS. Am I this pretty? No. Am I this tall? No. (Are my arms this long? YES.) But I'm at the Oscars for the only time ever so I'll look how I like. I'm wearing some fucking angel wings because I wore them to a costume party once and they felt amazing. And I'm wearing kind of a tutu because Behati Prinsloo did and nobody stopped her. And I'm wearing blue eyeshadow because I like it. I kept it real with some gray in my hair, though, due to integrity. 

I know what they say. They say to look in the mirror and take one accessory off. I did that already. I was going to give myself a beauty mark, but I changed my mind.

And if I get to go to the Oscars, my mom gets to go to the Oscars, too, and furthermore she's going to win. In advance. On the red carpet, before it even starts. My mom has always referred to herself as a "frustrated Helen Hayes", so now's the time to get some goddamn dreams coming true. 

I told her about this plan and asked her what she wanted to wear. She asked for a tiara or some pink roses (No need to choose here! Sky's the limit! You get both!) and then she told me about a school play she was in when she was a child in Finland. She played the sun, and her cousin Leena played a hurricane, and she sang this song to some pussy willow branches, all "Go to sleep, it's not spring yet, I'll shine later" and word on the street was that she nailed it shut. Nobody in Northern Finland was going to play the sun after that. She owned it. So she thought she'd like her outfit to tip the hat to that role, which she's getting this belated Oscar for. 

I'd have dressed her in a big ball of shining white or yellow to be like the sun, but she's a Winter so she looks best in jewel tones. And I figured she didn't want to be shaped like a ball. I gave her some effulgence to make up for it. I also didn't mean to make her dress look like a bathrobe, but if a gold tiara and pink roses and some fucking effulgence isn't dressy enough for the red carpet, then good night. GOOD NIGHT. 


Anonymous said...

Love this!

Suburban Correspondent said...

Awesome! I can't draw hands, either. Actually, I can't draw anything but smiley faces, but that's neither here nor there.

mergyeugnau said...

Best beloved, you are the best. It happened just so.

Jo said...

At first I was a little bummed that we weren't getting the actually photographs, but quickly realized this is 1000+ times better.

Anonymous said...

I love your writing. It makes me smile.
Thank you!

KCF said...

Brava, Tina! Miss your voice. Wonderful to have you come back in for our dear Oscars!

Jen said...

Oh, oh, oh! I was so excited to see the G monkey in my inbox today. I may have spit out my coffee at the Blake Shelton paragraph. Ok, yes, yes I did.

Sorry you were/still are? sick. Get better and write more posts. Immediately please. Thanks.

Cheryl in Wisconsin said...

It is so great to see you back! Among so many other talents, you also have mad skills at Paintbrush???
I thought maybe Hannah Bagshawe had American Express cards tethered to her, that is what I would wish for if I was drawn. Imagine that shopping trip.

Linda said...

I started laughing out loud with Emma Stones knee and with the basketful of pearls lost my 2nd gulp of coffee. It was all down hill from there. Your writing is AMAZING! I wish you posted daily but its was worth waiting for. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Tina Rowley said...

Aw, thank you, folks! I love that this thing that's so dumb and fun for me makes other people happy, too.

Starting next week, I'll be returning to my weekly posting schedule. There will once again/always be something new on Wednesdays.

Thanks for reading and caring about the ol' blog!


rubelin said...

oh, yea, you're here!! I was so hoping for an Oscars post (though I was really uninterested in the actual Oscars)

Lordy, those are some fantastic Paintbrush portraits; you have some major skills!!

So excited to get regular posts again. My life has been dark and sad without my doses of gorgeous Tina words =)

Jennifer Worick said...

I want to go to there, and I want to buy this art and frame it in a series. Brilliant.

Anonymous said...

Love love love this so much! Thank you.
Funny funny shit!!
Sorry to hr you have been sick and hope you are well again soon.

Grandma Bonnie said...


Anonymous said...

I love everything about this post. Everydamnthing. Soap on a rope.

Congratulations to your mom! She looks fabulous!

Eve said...

You're simply the funniest and the best Paintbrusher, and Human at Large. OMIGOD, lemon hand. xo

Anonymous said...


Your blog has been an unanticipated pleasure and a vehicle for healing. And, while I support your life changes, months-long intervals where the only posts describe opinions about celebrity fashion aren't enough to keep me checking in.

Bless your soul for what you have shared. I'm off, with fond wishes.


Anonymous said...

Where are you Tina? I miss you, you've been gone too long!