bemusing musings of a bewildered brush-wielder

painting in progress

patricia, 1

So I’ve been pretty busy lately, and here is a progress shot of one of my most recent works.  I am excited to be working on this painting.  The model, Patricia, has really striking, dark features, which contrasts with the white dress and white background.  It is a large piece, about five feet by four feet.  Using the same techniques that I learned during my period of study at the Cecil Studios in Florence, I maintain a fifteen to twenty foot distance from the canvas and model.  I only come close for a few brush strokes, and then I back away again.  Sargent is said to have painted this way, as it enabled him to see the whole picture.  When they recovered a rug from one of his studios, they found that it was worn through to the floor, beginning at his easel and going back twenty feet.  I am in my new studio, and the light on the model is really beautiful.  The light is becoming cooler as the winter draws near, and it just works really well with the white on white theme of the painting.

Some individuals are off in their understanding of painting, as is evidenced in the descriptive language that can sometimes be used.  X-rays of paintings reveal that hands and faces and entire figures are moved back and forth, up and down.  I’ve come across some art historians, in books and lectures, that view these under layers as mistakes, as “pentimenti.”  Pentimenti derives from the Italian word “pentirsi”, meaning “to repent.”  However, these changes are a part of the artistic process (which some art historians well know.)  One day, I come in and entirely reposition a limb, the next day I completely wipe out an eye.  I don’t view these changes as mistakes, but rather, they are a part of the natural evolution of the work as I understand more about the sitter and the painting.  In this work, I am simply figuring out things as I paint- how the position of arms agree with the expression of the face, how dark hair serves to emphasize the line of the shoulders, how personality is reflected in the eyebrows.  I really enjoy this aspect of “life” painting- painting not from a photograph, but from a person.  It is the only way to truly capture a person’s soul.

DSCN0132

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One response

  1. Fred Shriver

    The new painting looks stunning. I look forward to seeing the finished work. The comments on pentimenti are right on; keep at the writing on painting, you have a flair for that, too.

    November 2, 2009 at 4:22 am

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