Monday, November 1, 2010

Whimsical portraits

Perhaps because of the season, Halloween, I am extra whimsical in this painting showing the Venice Carnivale, a time in spring where everyone dresses up in masks and historical italian costumes. I love the colors and unique masks that are somber, erie, yet provoking and interesting. Note how the mask follows the same undulations as a persons face, yet is removed and strangely beautiful. There is the minimal amount of "landscape" where the figures dominate. There are two distant figures and a gondola so everyone knows where this is (Venice, Italy). Keeping the hands soft was a huge challenge, something Bye Bytney taught me, it is known and deconstruction; you paint or render the object, in this case hands and a purse, then scumble over it to eliminate edges. The end product becomes mysterious and suggestive, making the viewer go to the more interesting parts of the painting. Impressionism leaves so much room for experimenting. If you don't like the look, render it again. Don't ever be afraid to go over and over a painting; one thing Dan Hatfield teaches gained from James Singer Sargents notes, but not to the point of killing the spontaneity. Also, note the amazing amount of interest just by a cook, angle of the head that is facing you. These small gestural tweeks can add so much to a painting, keeping it life like. People angle their head, not everyone keeps it stiff and upright. In my class on Fridays, we have a live model where I now teach the subleties of portriature but abstracting the portrait, as in this painting, is such a fun, good exercise.

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