Saturday, January 31, 2009
I don't usually like to paint people- I'm much more interested in capturing the colors of landscapes, or in creating intimate drawings of shells and sticks and other little nature-y things. But I went through a short phase where I tried a few portraits; most were fairly unsuccessful, in part because I was trying to paint people I knew and loved. I think that when we know people really well we add things to their characters that isn't always visible. This is why someone who might have seemed plain when we first meet them becomes beautiful as we learn what's on the inside as well as the outside. The whole weight of our history with the individual bears down on how we perceive them, and when it comes to depicting them in simple shadow and light I find I never can capture the essence of the person. I'm off just enough that one small change to a feature, or wrong expression, renders the whole portrait dead and lifeless. So I tried to paint this old Yankee from a photo...I was able to discover his personality in the same way I discover that of a character in one of my fiction pieces-gradually and with no preconceived notions.
Sadly, I have to keep him in a box in the corner, because I don't like the way he looks at me... kind of creeps me out.