ROBIN, STUDY IN BLUE
For the past year
I have been painting one-sitting renderings of the live model in which
the head certainly takes central focus. Nevertheless each of these
paintings is not what I think of as being a “portrait” in the
traditional sense. I gravitate to the human landscape, painted live, as
a taking-off point ––a foray into total and free experiment. And I end
up painting myself as much as my subject. It becomes a dual rendering of
both of us.
I aim to accomplish something totally
different with each canvas–– to transform portraiture into something
that is going to surprise, hopefully, shock me. I do love the
traditional media–oil, acrylic, watercolor, the brush, the palette
WHAT IS A PORTRAIT?
just wish I could come up with a boffo substitute for that staid
word––“Portrait” . My ambition is to capture that essence of the
human condition, that resides in this person generous enough to pose for
me. (Posing is very hard work.)
I paint from life, and if I am
fortunate enough to have a model, I don’t want to ruin that rush of
immediacy by using a camera for reference. Especially since I try to go
beyond achieving a “likeness”. Although my subjects usually recognize
themselves, if that is important. To my mind, a good photograph makes
better sense in accomplishing a flattering, engaging portrait. And who
doesn’t want to look good if it’s their “portrait”?
feel off the hook on the particular dilemma of pleasing a “patron”
because I aim for the inner essence–– that which speaks out to me, and
becomes a corroboration between sitter and painter, to create something
original, and that with luck, possesses a timeless quality.
model, for me, presents an opportunity for both of us to explore and
experiment towards new directions. To make fresh discoveries in the
realm of truly expressionist art, as opposed to copying what’s posed in
front of the artist’s easel. I aim for the model’s essence in the hope
that I will refresh my own mojo.
I was painting our model, “ Robin 1 ––A Study in Blue” ( At the
Forest Hill Art Club) , I felt certain vibes, which later proved to have
some validity. I sensed her Indian roots, the beat of Jazz, a strong
brave resilience in the face of a difficult life. And later, when she
clued me in about her background, my intuitions proved right.
also found a softer, vulnerable side to her character which I approached
in this other painting done alternately, in the same 4 hour sitting ––
Robin 2, A Study in Raw Sienna.
Robin, Study in Raw Sienna
I often use a limited palette for alla prima painting and tend to paint duo studies of the same subject, following a basic credo that I apply to every painting or drawing done from life study of the model––
One-sitting only, painted alla prima to capture freshness.
Vigorous, bold brush strokes. Pusillanimous dithering around doesn’t appeal to me.
No use of photography. I know that wonderful art is being created thanks to the miracle of digital photography, but it doesn’t work for me. It stands in the way of my ultimate connection to the subject.
My ultimate goal–– Each painting should be a freewheeling experiment, taken to its own honest conclusion.