Sunday, February 5, 2012
Cryptic notations from the aether.
Well, I'm still working away at some portrait commissions. The one I'm trying to finish first is being particularly resistant to letting me know what to do with it. I started it, then stalled, was sure I could finish it, then wasn't sure if I ever would. Then it sat on and off my easel for a few weeks, while I resented feeling incompetent and slow about it. Then, suddenly, I figured out the background (which always influences the face out front. It's an old artist's saying - if you're having trouble with the figure, look at the background). Then, the background stalled on me again. What's up? Maybe it's the winter blues. Anyway, I've got to finish it up and do it well, which is a bit like demanding a rope be pushable. Happily, the next few steps with it should be fairly straightforward.
I'm doing a lot of sketching. I have, possibly, the worst 'shorthand' in the world for sketching, which means that the meanings I have jotted down in near-abstract line form are near-unreadable to me after the fact. I should get back to life drawing more often and shore this up, I suppose. My sketchbook is filling up with squiggly hieroglyphics, though, which might mean something, somehow. Ergh, the vagueness.
The other portrait comission is just starting out at the compositional and drawing stage. Both the commissions are 16" square, which is an borderline-peculiar size to do a portrait on. First, it's hard to not make the head so large that it doesn't suit one's painting style. It's easy to make it just a bit too big for my brushwork to work properly. Then, if the head tends to be smaller along with the figure, it suddenly creates a whole lot of room around figure that needs to be filled in well. That is challenging too. How dim, how bright? Subject matter or more abstract? Personal to the sitter or otherwise? If so, how and why?
Otherwise, the studio is positively recriminatory with prepared yet unworked on canvasses. Or partially worked on. More on that later.