Sunday, February 28, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Oh, the commissioned portrait. I am glad for the work - I need to earn more of an income than my teaching brings in. (New York artist Tilly Strauss writes about art and money here. It's an important topic! And it's almost taboo, isn't it??) But...(yes, here comes The Big But...)...it is not the same as a portrait done with no expectations from the model. Even when there are no expectations from the model, a portrait brings challenges that are absent from other genres. It's THE HUMAN FACE! We all have one, and we all know when it looks skewed. I was just discussing this yesterday with a student in my Mixed Media Portraiture class. He is a landscape painter and this class is his first experience with portraiture. I challenged him to approach the portrait the same way that he approaches landscape. But, but... he protested. Yes, there's always that Big But when it comes to the human face. (Did I just write that??)
But what? I ask him (and myself...)
But, I want it to look like the person!
But, I want it to look like a person!
But, what if I'm honest and draw what I really see? I don't want to offend!
But, what if they don't like it?
But, what if I feel so bound to the sitter's expectations that I can't draw at all?
But what if they love it and I hate it?
Art for money. Do the rules change? Do I wear a different hat? What am I complaining about? That I don't have total control? Is that it? Is it a control issue? Why not see it as an opportunity to collaborate? Here sits this beautiful expectant woman (not the pregnant with baby sort of expectant, but the pregnant with ideas and hopes that I will make a portrait that will please her sort of expectant...)...a friend of mine for many years, who wants to give this portrait to her husband for his birthday (which is coming right up, and speaking of but(t)s I really need to get mine in gear and finish this...) and she wants it to be a happy portrait. And she wants to look blonder than she looks now, in the dead of winter. These seem like simple enough requests. The happy thing, though. Not so simple. When people sit for a portrait they may start off smiling, but soon they can't hold the smile any longer, and they start to talk. It's like a therapy session. They talk about happy things, and they talk about sad things. And guess what. The face changes. Alot. And if this were not a commissioned portrait, I would be drawing those changes, and the portrait may start to look a bit sad, or pensive...
I've often had people tell me that my portraits look intense, or sad...
So what to do. (I have to tell you that with scarce few exceptions, I intensely dislike portraits that are drawn straight from smiling photographs. BORING! What's the point?)
After drawing for an hour or so, I took a bunch of photos of my friend smiling, in between her telling me about some profoundly sad things that are happening in her life, because she wants this to be a happy portrait. And I have the challenge now of feeling confident that I can keep this portrait alive and interesting as I work from photos to resolve it. My friend lives on a bay, and the imagery in the silkscreen on the wall behind her resonates with her, so I will work more with that. I will also add some day lilies - her favorite flower. She has incredible gardens...
I just need a shift in attitude. No problem, right? Just something to help me to shake my Big But...
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
Ahmed is now an international ART STAR!!!