Tuesday, October 24, 2017

My Journey... Exploring Portraiture - Part Two

In my earliest painting explorations the figure was always an active element in my picture-making interests and attempts to record what was around me. I believe that  was also the case for many of my young friends who shared my passion and predilection for expressing their ideas in various mediums. One received very little, if any criticism as to the "correctness" of line or anatomy in their pictures. Pictures told stories that centered around our own life's happenings and our family members. That was the primary function... and high realism was not the focus.

The pencil was my initial rendering tool... and I used it with wild abandon and joy... on any blank surface that begged to be filled. I used whatever paper was available in our house, cereal boxes or rummaged shirt forms... evening the smooth pink coloured waxed paper used to wrap meat in my Uncle John's meat market. My greatest joy was to be making pictures... and often in a comfy chair listening to the "family entertainment center" of our day... the Roger's Majestic Radio. The ritual hasn't changed much... but the ante has as a working artist. "Correctness" now matters" a great deal, as does my choice of medium.

I have explored the use of a variety of different mediums broadly and for the most part, I feel comfortable working in any that I choose to work from. But my strong preference remains in using oils for any project... both in the field, in the studio and in any scale or format.

While I did undertake to paint reasonable portraits of most of my teenage girlfriends, looking back their handling lacked a sense of  proper finish and worse, they lacked any sense of emotional understanding connection tho the sitter. I believe that quality and goal to be the ultimate "holy grail" for any portrait maker. A portrait should indeed capture a good representational likeness of the sitter... but it should somehow reveal a deeper understanding of the personality and an inner connection to the spirit of the sitter.

Second Stage of Foundation Work

I decided to develop a more highly evolved and sophisticated ability to handle still life subjects which incorporated more realism, but at the same time characteristics which evoked human comparisons and traits. These usually were amplified by a very careful chosen title for the study. Here is a cross-section of work that might offer insight to my motivations and outcomes visually. There is an inference intended that the goose in both of these similar paintings has feelings very similar to humans.

"Lady in Waiting" - water color 22x 30 inches on 300 lb Arches Paper SOLD

Version II - "Lady in Waiting Revisited" Artist's Collection

Some shared elements... some different. Very different formats and moods.... Why????

I wonder... Wanna hazard some thoughts???

                                                                     "Allison"  GIFTED
Allie never failed to return from her Venetian travels and adventures bearing gifts. This was a gift back to her from me... using her gifts to me as elements.

"A Cup Full O' Summer" SOLD

Wild flowers in their summer cycle speak aloud to the person who pays attention of a specific moment and month in summer. They seem always to me to be story tellers whose tales are the stuff of good poetry and verse. They are perennial recorders of summer's passage.

"A Few of My Favourite Things"  GIFTED

This tempera still life painting records that moment in my artistic coming of age... where I spent most of my attention and time scouring the countryside... with pencils and sketchbooks in tow recording ancients farmhouses and barns. Many of those sketches evolved into major water colours at much later dates. The painting is really... a painting of me with my gear back in the '70s.

                                                "Embracing Winter... and Life"  SOLD

This tree portrait came as a result of the impression it left with me of the struggle that all living things encounter during their brief life span. How appropriate that impression and lesson recently in my life...

                                      "River Dance"- oil on canvas 40 x 30 inches  SOLD   

A favourite painting of mine... very different in style from most of my other paintings - a departure for that matter. Again the landscape creates a conversation... one which engages parts of the painting, but at the same time extending an invitation to the viewer to join in "the dance".

All of these paintings make use of  non-human characters whose function is encourage the viewer to step beyond reality for the sake of reality. These efforts are but one step from actual portraiture as we carry it out as a genre. Are they not really... "portraits" of my inner thoughts???

I wonder... 

Stay tuned for some actual portraits.


  1. The top two really showed me what you were getting at, with the paintings - in the first, it's a bit hopeful, the waiting (perhaps for other geese to arrive for a party or just one single goose to enter her life again?). In the second, well it's sad, isn't it - winter has come and there is a missing...informed by the beret (a missing soldier) and patch she looks down at - no upward turning eyes and head, but downturned. You got me with both of them without saying a word but letting the elements and the positions of things speak for you. And I've always loved the dancing trees, reminiscent of Emily Carr.

  2. Good morning Rhonda... Thank you for this second response to my blog posts. It never fails to warm my heart when my paintings offer insights into my thoughts and experiences. However... the greater joy for me arrives when the viewer forms another "story" of their own making... which is just as valid as the one that might have fuelled my creative purpose.

    Bravo! Your read was exciting and satisfying Rhonda. Thank you for taking the time to climb aboard and respond so creatively!

    Warmest regards,

  3. I thought almost the same as Rhonda, I was very taken with the two goose paintings and was a little puzzled as to the beret that Rhonda has explained now the reason behind it. What two wonderful paintings they are. Geese are amazing, the way they fly together and will look to a comrade who may be injured and one will stay with the other goose to see if it will live. It never ceases to amaze me how important the life is of each creature and how they have their daily routine. I noticed it when looking after a friend's budgie a few years ago, that tiny bird had a fixed daily routine and would feel very put out if anything came along to disrupt it. He finally ended each evening by swinging on his tiny swing in the cage while facing the window. You have such good drawing and painting skills and I have so much enjoyed this post Bruce. Keep going! ....

  4. Hi again Lass!... It warms my heart greatly when other artists whose talent and journey I admire "get" what I am trying to express through my imagery.

    "My story" in fact varies from Rhonda's... but that is not at all important. It is simply that the paintings provoke a meaningful dialogue with my viewers. In so doing, they have accomplished their purpose - they have communicated a message to be interpreted.

    They do not require paragraphs or papers to do so. They simply strike a chord in your experience and resonate. Perfect!

    There is so much to be learned from the Natural World. We are but creatures in it... sharing this wonder-filled Eden with other creatures around us. Are we not just as fragile as the butterfly... or as dependendent upon ritual and routine as your budgie buddy???

    I wonder...

    Thanks for dropping by and adding your lovely thoughts!

    Warmest regards,