According to local legend, in the 1920s a Cajun imprisoned in Port Arthur, Texas, pined for his lost love, his beautiful “Jolie Blond,” and wrote a waltz from those feelings of longing. Over the years the song became for many the Cajun anthem based on a sort of modern-day Evangeline. On the internet there are more credible versions of the history of this song, but for Rodrigue’s Jolie Blonde, a subject he returned to many times over forty years, what matters is the romantic myth of this convict who wrote a waltz for the woman he loved, a faceless Cajun beauty waiting for an image.
Rodrigue’s Jolie Blonde paintings, like his Evangelines, could fill a museum exhibition. He photographed dozens of models and painted hundreds of versions. In the painting She Brought Me Spring, Rodrigue suggests that he himself is the Blue Dog, presented a new life by Jolie Blonde, modeled here by his wife Wendy just after they married in 1997.
Rodrigue began the painting in acrylic but grew frustrated with the fast-drying paint. “A woman’s face must be soft,” he explained. “A build-up of acrylic paint is too harsh.”
As a result, he began work on a new canvas, this time with oil, a medium he reluctantly gave up several years before following a warning from his doctor. After a week or more of work, however, he grew dizzy and, fearing the health risks, abandoned the painting.
In the early 2000s, Rodrigue discovered water-based oil paints. He used these for a series of nude figurative paintings called Bodies. At the same time, he returned to the painting She Brought Me Spring and finished this contemporary Jolie Blonde work.
Read more about Rodrigue and Jolie Blonde here: http://www.wendyrodrigue.com/2009/12/jolie-blonde.html