Tag Archives: challenge

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.

What began as a portrait of two…

As a special gift for my Mum’s 80th birthday in January, I decided to do a portrait for her from a photo taken of her and Dad at Mum’s last birthday.   With elderly parents, and my father’s health declining, I really wanted to capture this moment for her in a very special painting. 

I have been working on the painting now for the last couple of months and what began as a portrait of two has been extended to a portrait of eight! In the background, set out on their sideboard, I have added other family portraits along with vases of Mum’s beautiful roses.  Initially I was challenged by the idea of painting two portraits in the one painting, however now the bar has been raised to a new level and I am so glad I took up the challenge.   I know that Mum will love this painting, that it will bring a lot of joy to her and it has already become a very special family treasure.    

And as my journey as an artist has found its way, I am just so happy that I have pursued developing my portraiture skills as it means so much to me to be able to create this painting for my Mum.

Coincidences…and when to stop!

Although busy with the lead up to our exhibition, I am delighted to have completed a project I have been working on for some time now.  There is a real sense of satisfaction, having lived with this portrait for what seems like months now (although if I was to check my records I don’t think it has been), however the idea to paint this particular painting has certainly been with me for about nine months.  Now that the idea has been birthed,  I am delighted it has coincidentally been finished in time for my dear friends birthday. 

While I believe coincidences happen, what I don’t believe is that they are coincidences (if you can understand that).  I had not intentionally set out to paint this painting for a certain finishing date as I had contemplated starting it on a number of occasions.  It was not until I began painting and now that it has been finished, albeit with some big gaps in the middle of it, that it has actually coincided with my friends forthcoming birthday.  If anything I had thought of it as a Christmas gift, as it was taken at Christmas a year ago.  My friend is currently working in Kuwait so what better way for her gift to arrive but via a treasure hunt in my website!  (Happy birthday Roseanne!)

And on the learning side, Warwick Fuller’s key fundamental questions from my recent workshop with him, kept coming to me especially in the final stages of doing this portrait (I had begun the painting before the workshop).  The three things he instilled in asking when painting are 1: What colour is it? (colour) 2: What tone is it? (tone) and 3: Where do I put it on the painting? (drawing). 

When I stepped back from this painting for some final analysis, I could see a couple of places where the tone wasn’t quite right and my challenge then was to make the adjustment without completely altering all the relationships that went with it.   Also I was now not working “wet in wet”, so blending was trickier.  And then it gets to a point where you just have to stop.  Knowing when to stop is another challenge for an artist.  So I will stop here!