Thursday, May 7, 2009


My class demo... Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art.. May 6th...18x24...

If I was a guy, I would want to look like Jack Atlantis. This was our model this week and he wowed the room. Everyone loved painting him and everyone did great work.

I had brought in a huge book of Franz Hals portraits and Jack fit right into my 'catch a character if you can' lecture.  Boy, Hals did it so well.  Humbling stuff. Those faces were painted centuries ago but they still look very much alive.  NO cameras there. Life painting all the way.

Jack has one of those handsome chameleon faces that can change into a myriad of looks, ALL good,  going from charming 'pretty boy' street cool to hard-edge attitude rocker or haughty Victorian Ringmaster running a circus or country fair.

And of course, you just knew Jack had a lot going on outside of the art school room. He is a very talented musician, with an incredible voice, and a fashion designer, making a lot of the costumes he models in. Great to have the energy of this creative talent in the room. We all fed off it. 

He reminds me why I LOVE being a portrait painter. I might be strictly a 'one-trick' pony in the talent department (and some would argue even that)  but I get to meet and paint the MOST interesting people. Last week I was in The South doing a sitting with a very special doctor who I felt much the same way about although their worlds are far apart.

This gentleman had helped raised millions for a cancer hospice and  was just one of those special people who you feel privileged to meet and spend time with. You feel enriched for knowing them. They teach you. 

I just don't get this feeling when I paint landscapes as hard as I try. Trees, ocean mist and misty horizons don't move me at all but people and their life stories surely do in a way that is profound.

Shhhh...don't tell anyone I said that about landscapes...


Dixie Kee said...

I really like this guy! Sorry I missed the class, I went camping with family.

Portrait Painting By Johanna Spinks said...

we missed you Dixie. Family time is always good though! I like that picture of you.

Mary Aslin said...

Love your portrait studies and associated musings, Johanna. Also love the new Angela Lansbury portrait. Honesty with your thoughts, paired with such capable and honest brushwork make for a compelling visual feast and a wonderful read. Thanks! Keep 'em coming!

Marian Fortunati said...

LOVE your version of Jack!!! It's really one of my favorites..

And of course I always love to read what you have to say about it all... Always informative AND entertaining. Have a great Mother's Day!!

Rhonda Hartis Smith said...

Jack certainly looks like an interesting model, you did a wonderful job. As always, I enjoy your posts!

Portrait Painting By Johanna Spinks said...

Thanks for posting dear friends...

LSaeta said...

I love this portrait! I saw Marian's too - sounds like so much fun! I loke the loose strokes in the background and colors are wonderful. Also enjoyed seeing your painting at teh CAC exhibition. Congrats!

Joan Breckwoldt said...

Hi Johanna,

This is wonderful, he is just oozing character! I wish I could take your class, it sounds like you cover so much more than just painting.

BTW I just finished reading a great novel titled "The Frans Hals Diaries", a great read that really takes you back to that time.

I found your comment about painting landscapes interesting. I love to paint figures and portraits too, but I find portrait commissions kinda stressful (!). I would love to hear your thoughts on how to make portrait commissions less stressful. Thank you!


Portrait Painting By Johanna Spinks said...

Thanks Joan. I will check out that Hals novel. I have to make my class more than just about the painting to keep it interesting for MYSELF too.

I think i should do a blog post about how to make commissions less stressful. You have given me an idea. Stress kinda comes with the territory but there are certain things that can be done to make the ride smoother with the client.

I will keep you posted.

Joan Breckwoldt said...

Hi Johanna,
thanks for answering my post.
In my limited portrait commission experience, the stress doesn't come from the time I actually spend with the client. The photo shoot is great, I get good photos, and we all have fun. I do paint a lot from life but my commissions have all been children so I do that from photos. The stress comes next . . . when I am faced with that big blank canvas and have to start a portrait! Once I'm going it's usually not a problem, I do come across challenges but I'm always able to work them out. My clients are happy with the portraits (except for a minor change once - the grandma wanted the grandson's sideburns shortened 1/8", can you imagine?). Anyway, what I have is a type of "stage fright" when it comes to actually starting the portrait!
I look forward to your post and all aspects of making the process less stressful,