Saturday, June 4, 2011

Why would anyone sit for a portrait drawing/painting?

Isn't that what a camera is for? Why bother sitting still for hours when you can snap a button and get a picture of yourself that way? Is there a difference?

A camera is great for capturing a literal moment. If you want to record all of the details of how something or somebody is exactly, in this moment, you need a camera. The camera captures every detail and records everything. The camera does not discriminate. It's possible through the technology of photo editing to compose, arrange, embellish, and reduce things in photographs. You have some editing power but what is captured is the moment as it literally is.

An artist experiences life and records the truth, essence, simplicity, and emotion of the experience. An artist takes something from the natural world and talks about it using their skill; be it drawing, cooking, music, sports, writing, etc etc. A work of art isn't just a recording of something, it's the emotional response and opinion of that thing told in the recording. In theory, the more skilled the artist is, the better able to communicate they will be.

"In art, intentions have no place; only results. In good art, the results do not have to be "explained"." John F Carlson

The portrait you get as a result for sitting for an artist isn't merely a physical recording, but a recording of the whole essence! It's a recording of your personality, your mood, your being. The goal of a portrait artist isn't just to capture a physical likeness but to capture the total likeness of a person. What they feel like, who they seem like they are, the emotional experience of being around them. Which is why I do not work from photographs; I need the experience of being in front of a person in order to attempt to put all of this into the finished work. My aim is to produce the most powerful work possible. It takes a little time to get a feel for somebody just like it takes a little time to execute the drawing.

A photo captures light reflecting on a physical body. An artist captures the experience of the whole person.

Also, to dispel a few fears, when sitting for a portrait drawing you don't have to sit absolute rock still; just relatively still. You'll be relatively comfortable. Typically, I'll have a conversation with whomever I am drawing.  The only real constraint is that I need to be in an environment where I can control the lighting (either in my studio here at the house, or otherwise). You sit for however long is comfortable, we take a break, and then you resume sitting. A two hour drawing doesn't mean somebody holds still for two hours without stopping, stretching, or moving. It's often a relaxing, engaging, pleasant experience.

If you're ever interested in a portrait of yourself or somebody you know, shoot me an email. I'd love to discuss your project.

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