Improbable Quest

My head frequently bubbles with detailed artistic ideas, but actually accomplishing them isn’t always easy.

I’d like to create a series of paintings portraying likenesses of people I know, with their facial features and hands taking prominence.

You may wonder why I don’t simply call them “portraits”.  Well, have you ever tried to render the essence of an individual onto paper or canvas?  Obtaining a true recognisable likeness is staggeringly difficult.  Formidable, even.  Not least because the sitter is unlikely to view themselves in the same way that the artist does and there are always critics ready to pile huge lumps of vitriol onto the artist.

Clueless but undaunted, the first step was taken; I found a photograph that makes me want to to dust off my paints.

Ruth©InkThis preliminary ink drawing was to make me look hard at her features to familiarise myself with depicting them – also to decide which elements of the photograph to include and which to leave out in the composition.

ruth©pencilThe quick pencil sketch helped me ignore the myriad details and to simplify by considering the tonal values of her face that create form.  Squinting helps with this.

My lofty aspiration is to somehow infuse the painting with more personality than the merely flat one dimensional drawing (although I do quite like flat images).  To cultivate an intimacy that goes deeper than a mere likeness.  Ideally I hope to reveal something of what goes on behind her eyes.

If I manage to fulfil my heady blur of ambitious imagined plans, the next post should be the painting.  Any resemblance to the sitter will be an indescribable relief, but mostly I’m just happy to be doing some art again!

Now if someone could just sprinkle some fairy dust onto my paint brushes…..

4 thoughts on “Improbable Quest

  1. Clueless? Not a chance missy! This is very impressive. You’ve gotten a great likeness and your hands are incredible. I can’t wait for the painting. And if you could spare some fairy dust, I could use some over here. Beautiful work June.


  2. We all start out clueless and gradually learn by doing, and usually with many mistakes along the way. You’ve said some really lovely things Carol, I’m very flattered and for once, almost speechless. Now fingers crossed that the painting will live up to the hype.


  3. I’m sprinkling the fairy dust over everything, not just your paints, June. It is great to see that you are posting and I like this drawing a lot! I know what you are saying about likenesses. My family voices their opinions too, but, little by little they begin to see themselves in what I try. I think a body of work of portraits show different elements of an individual. Somehow I begin to see more than ever before. Keep going. Lucian Freud said, in one of his interviews, that the reason he continued to paint the human figure was because he was always chasing that one perfect painting. I think that is what we do best, is chase that perfection we seek.


  4. Thank you for your most helpful and encouraging comment Leslie and I bow to your experience – Freud was so right. I plan to get around it by telling the subject that it’s an artistic exercise in ink or paint and any recognisable likeness is merely a bonus.

    Hah! Now I’m covered in fairy dust – it’s all over the place with enough to spare for Carol, although she clearly doesn’t need it.


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