I often get such wonderful photographs when I visit New York. It was a gallery opening which brought me to New York on this occasion 10 years ago. Art Wolfe, an internationally known artist based in the Seattle, was showing an an amazing body of work. He had allowed me to work on the project a couple days, a participation I will never forget. I didn’t want to miss this ultimate show.
While moving about and chatting with many people I knew, I spotted a very interesting and attractive young woman. I ask her if I could photograph her. In New York most people like to be photographed. It’s a positive form of recognition. The desire to be an actor or model is very strong. Immediately she said “yes” and struck a pose. She wore an dress with only one sleeve. The other arm and shoulder were fully exposed and fully tattooed. Chains hung from her attire in many places. Her wore heavy eye make up. I knew these photos would be fun to work with some day. The “someday” is this portrait painting – I enjoyed re envisioning her. I hope you like it.
To get and idea about Art’s project and New York show click here: The Human Canvas You’ve never seen anything like it. I was so honored to play even a small role in the effort.
I painted her face from imagination which was not easy – I even turned her head to look in a different direction from the reference – challenging! Overall my painting gives the little girl a different look from what you’d expect in our modern culture. The coat/dress and shoes in this painting were inspired by attire I saw in a film clip.The little girl in the film clip was Eastern European with traditional clothing and headdress from her country. Though inspired, I wanted to make sure my painting deviated significantly from my reference. I altered her coat/dress, face of course and gave her a little red purse and ribbon.
Unfortunately, photos of my paintings which are painted on highly textured surfaces – such as this linen, don’t photograph very well and they are further degraded by the internet compression process. It looks a bit rough. I regret this but there is little that I can do about it – I’m not going to blur it or add filters. I love the look of this linen surface in real life.
I said I would present you with a non-human portrait this week but ultimately I didn’t like the photo reference I had in mind – so I chose as usual, a human portrait – a little girl. Yet another portrait look with lots of texture. I love the way children hold tiny things in their hands – the items appear to be so precious to them.
I painted this little girl using my painting knives. I ask myself recently why I had searched for and purchased my large assortment of “painting knives” if I was not going to use them. A few years ago, I had an online instructor who mentioned that her primary tool is a painting knife, which she purchased long ago, but which is no longer available. (I always hate it when someone says that.) She further commented that she could not paint in her specific style without this tool. It has a very soft and flexible metal blade which provides a great deal of control in creating large and very fine details with great maneuverability. I was immediately challenged to find such tool for myself.
Art stores now only sell palette knives made of a substantially harder and less flexible metal.Their purpose is primarily to mix paint on a palette, though some do paint with them and make other creative marks. Art stores today, however, don’t sell painting knives I wanted a painting knife like my instructor – I like tools. INDEED I FOUND SEVERAL! My search words included – painting knives, vintage, used, well worn, … words most people are not looking to describe products they want to purchase, but I focused on these words. I now have 17 assorted painting knives – different shapes and sizes. I purchased all I could find because in addition to their rarity and fragility, I might damage one in a drop to the floor and trust me I drop things ALL OF THE TIME. One set of these knives was used but excellent, another set was completely unused – still in the box with only a little discoloration on the blades. I feel so lucky to have found these very serviceable, no longer commercially produced tools, on Ebay – and for a song! They are amazing. They look much like a palette knife but they are made of thinner and far more flexible metal. With them, I can make expressive marks different from a brush and move the paint around in an easily maneuverable manner.
Recently, I posted a painting of this same little girls head only, painted several years ago – a normal portrait. At that time, I looked at those ruffles and thought “I don’t think so – but maybe someday”. And so the day came and I thought I’d put those painting knives to the test. It was right tool, the right time and the right skill level to create this painting. I enjoy the color, the depth and dimension as well as her red ruffles and pretty little face. I really like it – It was fun and I hope you enjoy it also. My next canvas is prepared and ready for me to get to work. It will be a very unusual kind of portrait – not the human kind!
The heatwave broke here and it’s now very comfortable. Wherever you are, I hope you are comfortable also. YEAH KANSAS!
Portrait Redo – 9×12 Portrait Oil Painting on Linen Panel
Revised Painting of Young Mexican Girl by Winifred Whitfield
A few weeks ago, I posted the “first painting” of this young girl as labled. It has some cuteness about it, but it is in my home and I saw it daily and it irritated me more and more each day.
It is not unusual for me to make little changes to a painting as I see the need – “seeing” a process unto itself. For this painting, however, my concerns were major and required major repainting, which upon conclusion, I consider a major accomplishment. I even created/modified a brush just to add the curls to her hair. Well, it’s done – at least for now!! What do you think?