The Vision

The portrait idea

Sometimes I wake up with a clear picture in my mind of an artwork I need to paint. I make notes, or I just start the process, even if I only have a little time to work on it. Sometimes I just cut out some reference material as a reminder that I need to work it out.  It is not as if these ideas lead to masterpieces because they are coming from the subconscious mind. When I paint them and they look exactly like my vision, they open my mind  to a different viewpoint. They lead to a move beyond my consciousness.

Involve many people

Last week I woke up with an image so strong that I had to act upon it. It was small in steps and involved many people, but the end product is huge on a scale. I will not tell you too much about this, although I am very excited and would love to gather people to support my idea. It has to grow a little bit more so it can survive criticism and questioning. It needs to settle firmly in my reality before anybody can see it. I have to bond with it first.

A section of this large-scale artwork is a simple portrait, just me, the painter, and a model. I was hesitant at first to ask models to sit for me as I thought nobody has time these days to sit. Even retirees are busy these days.  I was wrong. Once people stepped out of their “busy” schedules and posed for me, we discovered a true connection on a deeper level without the spoken word to interfere. So far my models have been pleased with the time spent together.

Meditative state

Did you know that when somebody sits quietly, the face has the tendency to droop slightly? Because the muscles are relaxed it looks like they are sad. One of my early attempts to make an interesting image of a model’s face was met with, “Don’t make me look so sad.” The model went back to the same position adding a big smile. That works for photography although even then it is hard to make a smile look real. It always to me seems frozen and eerie. If you say “cheese,” only the best portrait photographers can make it look like your smile is coming from your heart. I found an article on the subject.

One rule many portrait artists follow is to never paint their subjects smiling, especially if the smile is wide enough to reveal their teeth.  These artists generally feel that since a smile involves muscle contraction, it produces uncomfortable tension in the portrait.  A fully relaxed face, they feel, allows the viewer’s gaze to wander over and appreciate the subject’s features.  Some portraitists contend that only the unsmiling face can have lasting appeal across many years.  The wonderful contemporary Dutch portrait painter Rene Tweehuysen wrote, “A broad smile (showing of teeth) is not really to be recommended, and in the long term can lose its appeal.”  American Bart Lindstrom said: “Great art is about subtlety. That’s why, when I paint portraits, I prefer the quiet, timeless expressions of a relaxed face over one with a large smile.”  – Timothy Tyler.

My job is to make this happen – and it is not an easy job, requires full concentration from the model as well as the painter.

More from Tyler, ….  “If we have a more pleasant smile or contemplative look, that they will be drawn into the eyes, the mood, the moment of the painting” 

That is what I am aiming for. I like the challenge. I like to work from life because it creates an extra dimension that you don’t get when  working from a photo.

Please follow my process, because the result will be huge and I am taking small steps toward it. I found a worthy ideal and the trick to success is progressive realization of this worthy ideal. Feel free to contact me if you want to be a model. I need at least 112 different faces! I told you it was “huge.”


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