Thursday, July 24, 2014

EVERY TIME I PAINT A PORTRAIT...

Does the idea of painting a portrait of someone you know scare you?  It does me.  That's why I take so long to do one!  I don't want to mess up.  And I know my drawing skills are not at the level to free-hand draw the portrait on the paper so...I usually fiddle with my photo program, blow up the photo, and print it out and then trace the features.  And I still get off balance with the color and shapes when I'm painting!

John Singer Sargent hated painting portraits and dealing with the vagaries of human nature later in his life.  He is quoted as saying, "Every time I paint a portrait, I lose a friend."  And "A portrait is just a painting with something wrong with the mouth."  Sounds like he had a lot of complaints about his work - no wonder he went back outside and painted in watercolor, free and easy.  A tree will never say, "You didn't get that branch right at all!"

When you don't know the person - or are just painting a generic female or male or child, it's a lot easier.  You can paint eyes, a mouth, a nose and ears that are human-like enough to pass.  When you are painting someone people know that will be hung on the wall for family to see, then you want to get it right so it looks like the person.  

So...I'm working on updated portraits of all three grands and it's taking some time.  

Plus, I haven't done my lesson for this week in the Val Webb online class!  Oh, dear!! 

Of course, all this doesn't mean I'm sitting here watching soaps and eating bon-bons, so stay tuned for something soon.




7 comments:

Debbie Nolan said...

Dear Rhonda - I know exactly what you mean regarding portraits - like you said if it isn't someone you know and it can be generic then perhaps not so hard. I think I will stick with flowers - they don't care what they look like (LOL)! Have a great week-end - relieved to know you aren't watching soaps and eating bon bons!!

Katherine Thomas said...

I like those quotes! Perfect way to describe it! I know your portraits will turn out well though, especially if you know the people you're painting, and their personalities. How old are they? The whole family will treasure the portraits and the gift you've given them of your talent and your time and your love! Can't wait to see them!

Studio at the Farm said...

I don't know what it is about them but painting [not sketching] portraits always throws me for a loop, too. Good luck with your grands' portraits, Rhonda!

CrimsonLeaves said...

You probably know that when I do portraits, I use grids. Have to agree with your quote though...still hard to get the mouths right! I wish I could bang them out from life though! I'm amazed at artists who can do that!

Cathy Gatland said...

It frightens me too - but the ones I and other members of my family have done have become treasured even if there is 'something wrong with the mouth'. Imagine having a portrait done by Sargent, whatever it turned out like!

Judith Farnworth Art said...

They are tricky especially if it's a commission and I trace them too as the likeness is so important to the client. I have also avoided watercolour portraits feeling more confident with charcoal but have just done 2 and have actually liked how they turned out so will be doing a few more....

RH Carpenter said...

I think a lot of portrait painters trace, grid, project, etc. the drawing on the watercolor paper and then go for it. Of course, there are just as many who draw that portrait free-hand and do a beautiful job. All of us could do better if we just put in the time and practice but I guess my birds and flowers call me more than portraits - I'll leave that to Jean Pederson, Mary Whyte, Ted Nuttall, etc.
Thanks for the comments, Debbie, Katherine, Kathryn, Sherry, Cathy and Judith!