It’s week 8 of my 3 month intensive residency in my studio. I have worked on many portraits from life. There have been sleeping babies, TV glued kids, my man on the couch, my cousin in studio, life drawing models, fellow students and me in the mirror (now that can be confronting) but I must say it hasn’t seemed to have made it any less easier to ask someone outside of my immediate art world or family to sit for a portrait and then invite them to have a look at the finished job.
I don’t know who feels more vulnerable the sitter or the artist. I’m hoping that by doing more I’ll become more of a natural at this portrait caper. But right now, boy do I feel a little exposed. I’d be happy for any words of wisdom from those who have pushed through on this matter. And I must say I’m so impressed with my willing sitters. Who knows what could come. They might end up with a beasty on their head or looking like, well not pretty, which is really ever so likely with my keenness to slap paint on - ‘is that really how you see me?’ I have had a friend say to me that she once had a portrait painted of her by an artist and she found the painting so confronting and hated it. Even though it wasn’t me that painted it, I felt a little ouch for her and the artist. Apart from the fact that they may just be really confronted by the work, I suspect, how a sitter takes their portrait can be coloured by their expectations. What helpful things can an artist do to prepare the sitter for a potentially confronting moment?
I’ve continued this week on some large headed portraits of a couple of my co-workers. Since the initial sessions with these sitters, I have been working off my reference materials collected from those sessions including sketches, thoughts, painted colour notes and photos. Then today, a good moment, another bit of a sitting, a bit of revealing too, and a sigh of relief, it was a moment of connection, another day on the journey. So this week I just really want to say thank you to Sharon and Dave, my adventurous sitters.