Could one not then contend that portraiture is a "conversation" created by the painter which focuses upon feelings and interests that are somehow stirred by the sitter? If those same feelings or interests occur as a result of a relationship between the two people could one then rightly concur that now three individuals... the painter, the sitter and the viewer are active participants in this conversation?
This premise is what makes for successful portraits in my mind. The image intends... and reveals more than a physical likeness. Costume... backdrop and expression also contribute to making the portrait reach out to the viewer's eye and mind.
The genre and tradition of portraiture can be seen not only to span thousands of years in time, but as well it can be seen to have successfully crossed social barriers of class, culture, religion, politics and tastes as it moved through time. The tradition predated photography but shared many of the same functions.
Today, in this digital age the "art" of portraiture has been has been handed over to any person with a hand held phone. While the quality of the lens and camera function are superb and make possible portraits of quality... in the hands of sensitive and thoughtful user.
What seems to have become the standard for portraiture is 'the "selfie". Mostly... the resulting self- image or snapshot lacks everything that a good portrait aims to capture. In both photography and the art of painting, we have democratized the playing field and done disservice to both art forms.
I must admit that my experience in the art of portraiture does not match that of my landscape and still life interest. But I did the necessary study in draftsmanship, anatomy to create acceptable results. I will conclude this evening's post and my portraiture review with these samples which I am proud of... and that support my beliefs. You can be the judge whether my journey seems to enter the genre valid and the results of value. After all... it is the viewer's eye and opinion at the conclusion of the "conversation" that are the best judge.
A portrait of young friend Kayla... the free spirit GIFTED
"Listen to the Guitar Man - a gift to a blogging friend GIFTED
"Sugar Daddy, Ken McCutcheon"- friend and World Champion Maple Syrup Producer SOLD
"Cold Hands... Warm Heart" - portrait from the rear of long time painting friend GIFTED
"River Boy" - portrait of my son Andrew on one of our canoe trips GIFTED
"Lost in the 60's" - a study of an inhabitant on Salt Spring Island, BC SOLD
This is a "memory" portrait of Allison "Jemima Puddle Duck from memory done c.2000 while I lived in Chester NS. It was a section of a larger work entitled "A Home Isn't Just a House". It featured a characterized memory of Allie and I strolling past my favourite home in Chester, NS. There never was such an event. Isn't the memory a wonderful tool... especially in making art???
I wish to assure you that my ramblings about portraiture and my journey into the genre were not intended to emblazon my abilities in any way. The reason for this series of posts was to review my journey to revitalize what skills I have used in the past in preparation for re entry into this difficult and demanding genre after a long absence from working on such a project.
The idea to take on another portrait came out of a chat and comment that my long time Blogger Caroline Simmill of Scotland made to me recently. She remarked how smitten she was with Allison's beauty and wondered if I had ever had her sit for a portrait.
Sadly, my answer was no. More sadly still... there exists no physical possibility that this can ever happen. That reality forms a very cogent part of my "new normal" that I am trying to develop and live by for the remainder of my time here. Don't put off today... what might be impossible for you to complete tomorrow.\
Caroline's question stirred something deeply within me and would not go away. At first I could not wrap my head around looking into her eyes so intensely... nor could I spend more than mere moments keeping my head and heart separate from those desperate and painful last moments with her. I was quite simply... paralyzed and the act seemed outside possibility.
Over several weeks, I decided to use this approach based upon my conviction that this could really be valid and self-healing exercise to begin exercising evidence of, and confidence in my "new normal". It did require much soul-searching and many hours of research to find just the right backdrops and ... most importantly ,the most comfortable photo reference to work from. After much deliberation... and the help of these posts... I am ready to proceed.
One last bit of encouragement came as a result of attending a recent book signing event in Kingston. The event was the launch of a book by her peer and long time photographer friend, Peter Coffman. But that is a part of a story... for another day>
Stay tuned.. and wish me luck!
Good Painting... to ALL!... and Blessings!!