Thursday, July 28, 2011

HOW TO PAINT FROM LIFE...What was I thinking?

My latest Face Of Ventura, Jalopy Joe.

So what was I thinking while painting this sitter?

This was a posthumous portrait. I decided, while painting Joe from a photo, that I will not be painting anyone else from photos for my Face of Ventura series being featured in The Ventura Breeze. He will be the exception.

Each sitter, nominated by the town's people for good deeds or of special interest, is painted directly from life in a two to three hour sitting with no touch-ups or tweaking after they leave the studio as I think this defeats the purpose of the project - the direct interaction with the sitter, hearing their life story and revealing the centuries-old art of portrait painting, from life, to them. I have worked hard to build this skill set up over the years and continue to.

It really tests an artist's metal. Some days you are shiny and 'on'. Other days you are dull and 'off'. It also reminds me to DRAW all the time so one is prepared.

Too many portraits are done from photos. You see portfolio after portfolio of them at The Portrait Society of America's annual conference. There is a certain flatness to them oftentimes because of this.

Things change if you finish a portrait from photos after the sitter has left the room. Yes, you will get a more finished art piece and a more exact likeness perhaps, more pleasing to perhaps the sitter and the artist's ego, but you sacrifice a certain ENERGY in my opinion. My series is far from perfect artistically. Sometimes I wince. But each sketch has a very definite life force.

I don't want to mess with that even if it means I have to put my art ego aside which is a little hard sometimes.

Thanks as always to Breeze publisher Sheldon Brown for featuring my series in his paper. My Face of Ventura project would not be the same without it.


Marian Fortunati said...

This is a great post!!!

Love the portrait.. even though it wasn't done from "life".


David Magallanes said...

Johanna, I love the girl's eyes in your July 26 post. Hauntingly beautiful!

Portrait Painting By Johanna Spinks said...

thank you!