Thursday, November 15, 2012

An Inferior Reference Photograph, A Different Kind of Portrait

Son #2 in progress, is looking more and more like himself in a flashy kind of way.


Son #2 , pencil, 2009
As I'm working on  son # 2's eyes and facial structure, I'm  plagued by my choice to use what I knew to be a very poor reference photograph--a very big no-no in the Schmid bible.  In my defense, I wasn't painting back when I photographed  this moment. I had no intention of making a painting. I had no real camera. I just had all of my guys in the same room, in the same state, and that was worth recording.  So I took the picture with the (BD, before digital) camera and flashed my subjects flat, their eyes red, their features defined with deep shadows, brilliant highlights and hard lines.

Oddly enough, I'm sort of liking the effect. And I shouldn't be.  But the impetus for this painting was a painting of three gruesome heads I saw in the movie Wall Street.  I did imagine painting my boys that way. Then, over the last months, I learned a few things about portraiture and that idea went away. I blackened the background and began painting shapes instead of things. Now it seems I'm painting what I see again in the inferior reference photo. I've come back around.

Painting what you don't see  is as big an error as using a poor reference photo. The moment will not occur again. A new photograph can never be taken. So,as long as I'm stuck with the photo and into the painting, I'm going to PUSH the envelope hard and answer the question: Does an inferior photograph really produce an inferior portrait or something more intriguing as you are forced to compensate?

THE KIDS ARE COMING! THE KIDS ARE COMING!

And aside from working on my guys, I'm cooking and freezing. Two days ago, I made gallons of Mushroom Barley soup. Yesterday, Sweet and Sour Chicken. Today on the blackboard is hamburgers and poached chicken breasts for sandwiches. I cook in bulk.  I want the frig stocked and the freezer full so no time is spent puttering around the kitchen going what's to eat?  I want all my time free to look at my #2 son and his lovely lady. We haven't seen them for nearly three years. and I really need a hug--although, after he sees the painting, he might  object?

16 comments:

  1. More intriguing, for sure, as the hand of the artist can capture what no camera can. If you wanted a duplicate you would use a scanner! It is amazing how you can squeeze paint out of a tube and reach so deep with it. Coming along nicely!

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    1. You're kidding right? I have no clue. I'm just following my lead. this morning his eyes did come alive and are now following me around the studio, so that's a success. But the color is going to be rather bazaar since I decided to go with the lighting flaws in the photograph. I chose it, I'll live with it. Thanks for the encouragement Gus.

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  2. Enjoy the visit.

    I think you are right to pursue this and push it. You will learn a lot.

    I need to do some cooking today too. Making some for the freezer is not my usual style, but it would be convenient to have something waiting in there. Sadly our last batch of chili, which we do tend to freeze , is all eaten up.

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    1. I hate when the last batch of meals in a bowl is suddenly gone. That means more time spent dicing and slicing than screwing up a painting. I am going carry it through though.As I said to Gus. I chose it. I'll live with it--and someday, down the road, maybe I'll get to take another proper photo of my guys--probably as they're standing around my death bed. :-)

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  3. Your sketch from 2009 is a great one - I keept scrolling back up to look at it. Painting from photos is a huge challenge. The big no-no for me us use of a flash. As long as a photo is taken in natural light, even if it is inferior, I tend to not mind as much. The flash, as you mentioned, flattens features and creates black in the shadows. My very first portrait commission was of a friends husband - the ref photo was taken with a flash and I painted him EIGHT times before I was satisfied. He had passed away so there was no other option - sigh.

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    1. The painting from "Wall Street" that made me get into this, was of three ghouls' heads that were bloody. So I'm okay. :-) It's definitely okay with me if the kids come out looking like three ghouls.

      I had to put that sketch in, to rectify the painting. Yes, I can draw even if I didn't take a decent picture with my kiddie camera. Thanks. That drawing I wanted to make into a painting, but so far I haven't been moved. #2 Son hates it so why bother.

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  4. Oh my... three years! That is a really long time and you have every right to claim hugs!
    You have really been busy, painting and cooking, and from what I read and see you are doing a wonderful job!
    Sorry for being somewhat neglectful, but more changes are happening right now and more news (fingers crossed, good news I hope) are about to burst out. Can't say yet, but soon :)
    Hugs and Smiles.

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    1. I hope what you wish will come true Konstantina. I wondered where you were, but I've been busy too preparing for the holiday season and this visit from my son and his lovely lady. My daughter in-love from Greece is coming along with this troublesome fellow you see above. I'm very excited. She's an artist too. I'm hoping we'll have a great time together laughing at the easel. She's newly into watercolors, but has years of experience with oils. I'm sure she's going to fall over when she sees my haphazard handling of the medium and its tools.

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  5. Ik vind je manier van werken heel mooi lieve groetjes Danielle

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    1. Danielle said: I like your way of working very nice dear greetings Danielle

      I wish I felt the same. This is really scary--except for the fact that the painting is for me. I have no worries about clients' complaints. :-)

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  6. I always admire the way you continually push yourself in your drawings and paintings. There is a strength you have in your work and it appears to be confidence. You know no fear because you enjoy the process. A True artist!

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    1. That's very sweet of you to say Julie, thank you. I think I have to push having started so late. My objective is to achieve a respectable degree of felicity with this genre and this medium. I expect to break a few eggs on my way; this might be one of them?

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  7. good looking portrait... so will you take some new photos for reference during the visit? I like how you cook...I love making big batches of things. My family gives me crap about it, saying that I cook for an army. I just like to have too much food so I can visit more and cook less when there is company. Sounds like your plan too! :)

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    1. That's always been my plan. My mom was never at any of her parties; she was always in the kitchen. Afterwards, she was exhausted from all the work and sad she'd missed the fun. I learned from her to serve nothing that couldn't be made ahead and frozen. No way was I going to miss the festivities due to cooking.

      Yes, I do plan to take a new photograph. Absolutely. Unfortunately, one of my guys will be missing and my guys are more than five years older.

      It's not a great portrait. It's a weird portrait. I've got a likeness of all three, but the lousy lighting puts it into a different category: special effects, I think?

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  8. Just catching up and love the drawing, it is stunning.

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  9. I think that inferior photographs sometimes make for the most interesting portraits and sometimes the best because you might get an improvement over the original image with your artwork!

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