Friday, September 7, 2007

A study: Aunt Myrt at 88

I've been spending time getting some things framed, but today it is just too hot to work in the upstairs room I am using. So, a good day to paint. I decided to try an experimental study to prepare for a portrait I want to do of someone I don't know well. I can paint someone I know from a photo, because I have a visual sense of the whole head and how the face relates to it and to the neck and shoulders. So it is easy for my fingers to "feel" the dimensions. But with someone I don't know, that sense isn't there. In person, I'd be moving back and forth a little to develop a sense of that person, but in this case it won't be possible.

I decided to convert a photo to black and white, increase the contrast, and reduce the density. What is left are the dimensions and some of the "landmark" detail. Then print it directly onto the paper. For the experiment, I selected a photo of someone I do know, my beautiful Aunt Myrt, who is 90 years now. Because she lives on the other coast, I see her only rarely, which I consider deprivation, as I am extremely fond of her. This way, not only will I be able to see if the painting looks like the photo, but I will know if it looks like her, that essence that is more than just likeness. I hope that will inform the process when I do the other portrait.

This is a small study, done quickly, and is a bit rough. Actually, it is the second version-- I brushed out all but the face on the first and started over again. But I am pleased with the overall result, and now I think I'll also do a larger painting of my aunt!

Aunt Myrt at age 88
Soft pastel on paper, 12x12 cm (4.75x4.75 in)