Friday, September 17, 2010
Original oil Painting 20x16"
by Susan Roux
I thought I'd finish her off by late morning yesterday, but it took until 5:30 p.m. before I signed her. What is it about portraits? I couldn't seem to stop picking at her...
I was thrilled with my first Lisa. I found her fresh and alive and I was so surprised how much it looked like my sister. It was as though she was in the room smiling at me. Redoing a portrait was Don Hatfield's suggestion. He told me I would learn a lot by doing so. So I decided to try her again. I was curious as to what I could learn by redoing her, but mostly I wondered if I really had the ability to capture her again. If I could, it would tell me I knew what I was doing. If not, then it was just a fluke that the first one came out so good.
This one was challenging. Very challenging. I took a different approach for experimental sake and worked it without the first in view. I wanted to work strictly from the photo and not attempt to copy the original painting. It wasn't until close to finishing that I brought both together. To my grand surprise, I found the second painting to be much better than the first. If I think about form and 3-dimensionality, I see substantial improvement. Painterly? I can't really say that her face is painterly, but certainly the rest of her is. I question in portrait painting if painterly should be a goal. If someone were to commission a portrait would they want it well rendered?
During this experiment, what did I learn?
The first thing I learned is no portrait is easy. At least not when you're a new puppy at it like I am! There came a time when I saw more changes in color on my photo than I had before. I think this is why it was so hard to finish. Even in places were I thought I had painted all the information I could see, I kept finding more. I think part of the lesson is simply learning how to see and interpreting what it is you're seeing. As artists, once we see what it is, how its made up in colors and values, we can paint it. The difficulty is when we cannot break it down to those simple elements. I have to admit, I'm breaking it down more easily these days.
I'm exhibiting in a one-day group show at the hospital in November. Many doctors and their families will attend. I'm thinking of bringing this second Lisa and offer my services for portraits. I don't know if I'm jumping the gun too quickly here, but being able to capture my sister a second time has boosted my confidence. Part of me shivers at the thought of claiming that I can capture others. What if I'm commissioned and I really can't? The other part of me timidly whispers, "You can do this..."
I have to start somewhere, right?
Here's the first Lisa and the second Lisa, side-by-side as promised. What do you think?
Quick note: Thanks to all of you for your wonderful and helpful comments. They're always appreciated. For those of you experiencing painter's block, I received some very helpful information from bloggers. Please make sure and read each other's comments.