Saturday, July 14, 2012

Poor-trait Painting

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words.

I add, a portrait can be worth a novel...a never ending story of, "Who is that?"  And that's me asking the question, after I pulled the painting out to look at it again after a month!

Take model #3.  That was the one that I was working on when we last talked.  I missed the third class and tried to rush a finish during the fourth class with that model, but to no good avail.

I won't show it to you here so that you still think that I can paint.

Instead here to the right is a portrait of someone you may recognize.  If this is a true representation, I guess we know why he lopped off that ear!

I am going to work on portrait #3 at home and, perhaps, someday you'll get a look at it.

I had asked a friend,  a fellow artist who attends the same class, if she could take a photo of that model and send it to me.  That way, I would have her likeness for further study.

After she had emailed me the pictures, she asked if I had any success with the painting.  I told her, "Yes.  I enlarged the photo to canvas size, cut the image out and pasted it over the painting.  It looks great!"

Really didn't do that.  I will figure it out, I promise, and will try to secure the best representation of the model.  At least I have to be happy with it.  Perhaps the model will like it, too.

Of course, there's that adage of an art instructor of mine from years ago who said, "The sitter may not like the painting when you've finished it, but put it away for twenty years and then bring it out to show it to them and they'll love it!"

I don't struggle with trying to get the image of the sitter exactly right.

I think my paintings prove that.

You needn't comment.

During that last class with model #3, instructor, "Where are you looking?"

Me, "At the model."

Instructor, "Really?"

Me, "Is there a problem?"

Instructor, "Not at all...there are a hundred problems, give me that brush!"

At the moment, I thought I was being drummed out of art class.  Stripped of my tools!

She grabbed the brush with lightening speed and stepped back, I thought to toss the brush javelin style through my canvas.  Instead, she mixed a few globs of paint together on my palette, "You need some warm, and some cool, and some hot and some cold, and some gel and then do this," as she redrew the entire face.  The whole thing looked totally different...just like the model!

Guess I need some more lessons.

You see, the center of the issue is this.  Everyone expects a portrait to be a perfect picture of the person sitting for the portrait.  Dali didn't seem to care too much about that, neither did Picasso.

Okay, others did.  But most know that portrait painting is problematic.

It's hard enough to get someone to sit long enough and still enough to get a good likeness...let alone worry about the outcome.

You're not always going to get everything right.  John Singer Sargent, who completed his share of portraits, said, "A portrait is a painting with something wrong with the mouth."

And what if you all ready have mouth issues...take our first leader, George we all know about his teeth issues, perhaps the mouth is the only thing right!

I've seen enough portraits of people I know and can hear them complaining about all sorts of issues.  "My nose isn't that big," "My eyes aren't that close together," or "This thing makes me look old."

Sargent also said, "Every time I paint a portrait I lose a friend."

Fortunately, for me, I haven't known any of the models so far and hopefully they don't know anyone that I know so that stories won't be shared with friends about "this artist who tries to paint my picture, but makes me look like I've had really bad plastic surgery!"

Model #4, who we started last week, was pleased with my first rendition and I think I got close to his image.
He liked the painting.

He offered to take it off my hands.

I told him that there was more work to.  He would have taken it, as is.

This effort was only after one class and it was a value study (various shades of just one color).  

 "We have to add color this week," and I added, "I still have time to ruin it.  I paid for three more weeks of class." 

He looked surprised.  We'll see how this progresses.

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