I have been grounded by the weatherman! The classic wintry mix has been a bane to my artistic activities. Snow, sleet, freezing rain, fog, and combinations of all four weather conditions have kept me from my drawing and painting groups. This painting was done last month.
In my last post, I mentioned that hats make everyone appear androgynous. You can see that here with this young woman wearing a fedora and a shawl over her shoulders. She had a funky hairdo under that hat. I would have loved to have had that in my portrait! But, in a group situation, one has to go along with the consensus of the group. They use costume for interest. I prefer pattern and color for interest. They have no desire to dress their model stand. What a pity! Think Matisse! Think Klimt!
As an artist, I find portraiture to be a very challenging practice. It’s a real test of skills and observation. However, they can be boring in large doses. I am also more interested in context. The environment tells the viewer a lot about the sitter if components are meaningful. These are just images of people who are anonymous to the viewer. Only if the portrait is by an art star does anyone take notice. We marvel over a Rembrandt or a Raphael or a Goya but not over a Schulman.
This is the first post of a portrait of the new year and the last portrait done for the last year. I have been working with a different group as my Tuesday group decided not to meet during December because of the holiday season. The use of hats has been favored by this group. I find hats make every model look androgynous. All the hair gets tucked away. The persistent use of black hats cast some really obscuring, dark shadows. Finally, my nudging got us a model without a hat. It allowed hair to flow around her shoulders.
This is a very challenging portrait because of the tilted head. Structurally, eyes, base of nose and mouth at the meeting of upper and lower lip are at right angles to the center axis. With the tilt like this and my paper vertically oriented on the easel, it made maintaining the correct position of her features a little difficult. I managed to sneak a little pattern into this painting. Anyone who is a regular, long-term reader of my blog will know I am a sucker for pattern and color. Patterns just seem to make the piece come alive. I tend to channel Matisse and Klimt. On occasion, I will also channel Gauguin. I couldn’t emulate a better crew of artists.
This is a drawing done with a time allotment of thirty minutes. The previous drawings were given a time allotment of five minutes. At the end of the time allotment it was not as complete as shown here. At home I added the dark background and the dark areas of the fainting couch. I also added the plaid pattern to the cloth on which she is lying to repeat the pattern from the pillow on the fainting couch. I then deepened some of the shadows of the upper cloth as well. Having more time to complete such details doesn’t mean I didn’t quickly draw the figure. It is always good practice to quickly place everything essential to the drawing a generalized manner. I quickly placed the figure, fainting couch, and the fabrics making sure I had enough information to complete drawing later. The pattern on the cloth and the pattern on the carpet are invented to complete the space.
If you enlarge the drawing, you can see the notations made during the quick, generalized drawing process. You can see the center line of the body and the face; the mark indicating the arc of the ankle of her left foot and the arc of the knuckles of her left the hand. It is critical to locate joints and to indicate the direction of the limbs. The joints are key to this as they are the points of movement. An anatomically correct stick figure can do that very well and express what the model is doing. By an anatomically correct stick figure I mean a stick figure with shoulders, a pelvis and joints; not the typical stick figure with a basketball head; a vertical line for a body with arms and legs attached directly to it. It usually has no hands and feet either. Drawing a naturalistic figure requires a naturalistic stick figure as a basis for beginning.
The initial, quick gesture lies at the heart of this drawing. It is just more developed than the drawings of the last post.