Monday, January 12, 2009


There isn't an artist around the L.A. scene over the last 10 years who hasn't painted the enigmatic art model Sara Streeter.   People drool for her. The TV show "Nip and Tuck" used her for a huge billboard on Sunset Blvd. for goodness sakes. 

It is hard to put your finger on her really. For one thing she is as thin as a pin. Transparent skin. Balletic body and a mysterious face that is beautiful in a not obvious way, more European than cookie cutter L.A. She is reserved, clearly intelligent and super professional arriving with the most amazing outfits usually.
I hate models that have been doing the art circuit for a while and they get that haughty BORED look. That look that says "I rather be at Taco Bell eating a bean burrito right now than modeling for you."

Sara is interested in what she does still.

 She also hasn't aged a day in the years I have been painting her which annoys me because I certainly have - just by the sheer volumes of squinty frowns it has taken over a decade trying to capture her magic on canvas. NOT.

So, there she was modeling for my teaching class at LAAFA last week and again this Sunday at the school's open  house, doing what she does best in her most muse-ful way. The demo I did in my class I really rather liked. I never like my paintings of Sara. I just never quite 'capture' her it seems. Looking around, a lot of people seem to have this problem. Her likeness isn't easy to come by, her elusiveness perhaps her endless appeal like the art muses that went before.

It got me thinking. I went back into my studio cupboard and pulled out a few STUDIES I have done of her, all painted from life, over the last decade. The good, the bad and the ugly. My fault, not hers. What makes something work for an artist, and what doesn't? Why do I like some studies and not others? Why do I paint really well sometimes, and then like a Dunkin' Donut others? No offense to them.

I place these studies  in the order I think I did them, the top one being the most recent. A few are really heinous but they do provide a little retrospective of my artist view of her as I tried on new techniques and kept on trying. That is why I tell everyone, KEEP your early sketches from life. I have kept all of mine. They are a hilarious hoot, the early ones,  and a sight for sore eyes. I had no idea I was that bad at the time.

Funny thing is, the very first one I did of Sara I REALLY like (last one in row). I don't paint like that anymore but it is a strong head and most certainly HER.  Almost jarring in its 'in your face-ness". 

Then you take all these lessons, read all these books and too much "thinking" takes over. Paralysis by Analysis.  I think I am finally getting back to painting without thinking so much. I am also painting in a less literal way. I don't want to paint exactly what I see anymore. 

Now if I could just stop the ageing process I would really be onto something.

(All images - single sitting)


Marian Fortunati said...

I love this series of Sara... And yes that first one is a really really nice one.

How great to see so many paintings of the same person painted by the same person over the years. What a wonderful lesson for all of us.

See you soon.

Teresa Mattos said...

I do like your first one, too. The second one looks like Cher. Love the last one, the light the flower on her hat is poetry.