Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Walking in Molasses.

As long as I paint, I still can't quite work out why sometimes I can paint REALLY fast, and sometimes I paint really slow. Like walking in molasses.

This was my class demo this week. I was pretty happy with it. Even the model said that I was an incredibly fast painter. And she should know. She has worked for everyone. I was able to keep this demo loose, keep the darks transparent, always a good sign, leave my cool ground showing in places, and basically not screw it up by over noodling. I knew I had put something down that was good and was able to leave it alone. 

In my studio I am currently working on a commission, 30 x 40, for an out of state client which is coming along very well but is taking me forever and a day.  The light is complicated and I chose the harder portrait to do, to challenge myself,  and hopefully deliver a great painting.

One of the other artists in the my in-residence program asked me yesterday:"Are you having trouble with that portrait?". I didn't quite know what to say except "No, I am just taking my time getting it right!" A strangely  insensitive question to ask another artist if you ask me.

I think sometimes people just assume us portrait artists whip these things out. Easy, peasy, lemon, squeezy. One, two, three, collect the check.  Onto the next. NOT.

I think sometimes people look down their noses at portrait artists. An art friend told me in her Santa Monica adult art school course, she was told portrait artists were craftsmen, rather than real artists. A bit like  a washing machine repairman.  But hey, there is art going on here...and one just can't rush the process. Vermeer was slow too, not that I am comparing myself to him but I think of this fact often. It takes the time it takes.

This study is 18 x 24. Available for purchase.


r garriott said...

A very nice portrait, Johanna!
And I'd love to see the person who turned their nose down at portrait artists try to pull this off themselves! (Or to apply that same statement to, say, John Singer Sargent.)

Reminds me of something said about Norman Rockwell years ago, who was dismissed by one critic thusly: "(sniff)...mere illustration..."

And on the speed issue: How many times have I heard, 'Oh, you could whip that out in about 5 minutes, I'd bet!"... um, try 20 HOURS... or more...

Portrait Painting By Johanna Spinks said...

Thanks r garriott: thoughtful comment. Yes, Rockwell always battled that issue from the critics it seems. Not now though! Where are you based?

Joan Breckwoldt said...

Your portrait work is beautiful. I think that's great that you challenged yourself and chose the harder portrait to paint, obviously that way of thinking has made you a better painter over the course of experience.
I paint portraits too and they're HARD, I think they're harder than still lifes, landscapes or figuratives! Well, I should restate that and say they're the hardest thing for ME to paint, portraits are exhausting!!!
What is an in-residence program?

Portrait Painting By Johanna Spinks said...

Thanks Joan. I agree. They are the hardest. And sometimes you can't predict when a face is going to give you 'trouble". Artist-in-residence, means a juried-in group of artists that belong to a group .Check out SCIART on the net.