Portraiture…the “extreme sport” of art!

On a number of occasions over these past few months, at various times, it has struck me the high degree of challenge there is in portraiture, particularly in aiming to capture the likeness of an individual.  Surely portraiture is the “extreme sport” of art because of that challenge. 

A few examples which have set me thinking…  Driving in traffic up from the Spit Bridge towards Mosman, I happened to briefly glimpse to the right of me, and in the time it took me to glance back to my daughter I commented that the person in the car that had just past us looked like a friend of ours.  All I had seen was the briefest glimpse of a silhouette, I didn’t recognise the car, and sure enough my daughter confirmed that they were subsequently waving to us.  Likewise waiting with a friend at Canberra airport recently to meet another friend for a reunion, as we sat in the lounge watching the passengers disembark we happened to notice “someone’s arm pulling on a jacket” and in that one gesture we knew it was our friend.  

Then today…visiting a couple of artist friends (Rhonda Meryl-White and Masako Gordon), amongst many topics covered over lunch we were then looking at some images on the computer when a close up of one eye only was shown on the screen, I immediately identified the model.   Our power of recognition from even the smallest amount of information amazes me.  It’s actually quite daunting if you think about it too much however I also find it quite fascinating and part of the thrill of portraiture in getting that likeness.