Sunday, November 17, 2013


L-R: self-portrait with full palette, monochrome study, three colour palette study

   The amount of portraits I've done in the past can probably be counted on two hands. Ok, if you include any faces incorporated into my paintings you'd have to have some feet in there too, and maybe a friend. But I have never concentrated on portraiture as a vehicle for expression. This fall I decided to take a portraiture class on a whim (and to fill an elective) and it has opened my eyes exponentially to the potential for depicting the human face. Its especially fascinating to see the variety of interpretations of one single subject.
  Its also made me more aware of the way in which I paint. What I interpret as my own incompetences reads to others as a distinct style and not necessarily incompetent at all, so in that way I've come to embrace my own way of painting a little more rather than what I aspire to.    
   "Reading" portraiture for me is one of the most difficult aspects–what is the artist trying to convey through their choices? Each decision leads to another narrative. While some say that portraits allow the real, true essence of the subject to be shared, I find my interpretations take a complete 180ยบ and I'm left baffled. Ultimately the artist sees what they want to see and even then, the image put down becomes something entirely different to another viewer. But this mystery is what makes portraits so intriguing. As with real people, you can never really know them, only think that you do though the lens of your own milieu.
   These are just some brief thoughts but the world of portraiture is wide and its history is long. I look forward to continuing my explorations in painting the face.

* all portraits studies from life–from top, left to right: monochrome, self-portrait with full palette, full palette with colour interruption, full palette study