My friend, Bonnie, came to sit for me again last week at the Neville Public Museum in Green Bay, WI. It was a joy to paint her in full Victorian attire. With the exception of a few minor tweaks when I got home, this painting was almost complete in 4 hours at the museum. There is some glare on this photo, so I'll try to get a better one when it's completely dry. Its actual size is 20x24, so not a huge painting, but it's very difficult for me to paint a full body pose in a short amount of time. I'll ponder it for a while and decide if I want to add anything to it. While I painted, we chatted about whether or not her great-great-grandchildren would wonder if she really dressed that way in everyday life. :)
I arrived early to the Neville Museum last week, excited to face another afternoon of painting a portrait from life. I set up my easel and put paints on my palette as I waited for my model to get there. When she did, she looked at the palette and said "What are all those colors doing there?" I started to explain that those are the colors I use in painting portraits. She stopped me and said, "I thought you were going to paint me in black and white." You were serious??? I hadn't done a monochromatic portrait in a long time. The work is entirely about value, not color. It took me about an hour to start to feel like I was getting somewhere. Working in one color is really a challenge! I encourage my artist friends to do it every once in a while.
The old saying, "the eyes are the windows to the soul," holds a lot of weight for me when I'm working on a portrait. A person's eyes are so revealing, but can be very mysterious too. The eyes are often one of the first things I work on when starting a portrait because it sets the tone for the rest of the work. I probably shouldn't admit this, but on occasion I imagine the painting winked at me to let me know that I'm on the right track. (My creative mind is so active when I paint!) I've been so fortunate to have good friends and family to provide many opportunities to hone my skills at painting from life during my time as artist-in-residence at the Neville Public Museum. I'm already past the half-way mark of my work there. If you're in the area, please come and watch me paint on a Tuesday afternoon until the end of October. Or, better yet, volunteer to be one of my victims, er, models. (hee-hee) I have a line-up of people scheduled to sit for me there so please send a message letting me know what days you're available and I'll try to work it into my schedule.