Last Friday, a friend of mine agreed to sit for the Old Town Artists portrait session. Thank you, Sara. I’m blessed with friends who are not only wonderful people, but also striking to look at (see Liliane’s session, here).
My plan for that night was to test-run an approach to watercolor painting that was a little more restrained than other recent works. The idea is to find some colors and shading techniques that can be applied to all portraits and that will garner somewhat predictable results.
I know many artist would counter that you should always be exploring, pushing boundaries, and not get “locked in” to “static” style. However, I think of what I do as illustration and when working for a client, unpredictable results are nobody’s friend. Even fine art commissions must be somewhat controlled to be successful.
Finally, the benefit of having a ‘core style’ is that it gives you a solid starting point for those experiments you *do* continue to undertake. It’s like setting up a base camp in an unknown country – it gives you a safe starting point. So.
The picture turned out beautifully, though, again, it’s not the best likeness of Sara (whom we’ve given an alter-ego of Susie Powderhorn, a do-gooder, Minneapolis socialite).
What I like about this painting is how it capitalizes on my core talent: drawing. the structure I laid out in pencil shines through to the finished piece, though the pencil lines mostly disappear. The color of the shadow is pleasing and it gives just the right amount of contrast to lend the figure some dimension and structure. There is still opportunity to give her more three-dimensional mass. If the darkest part of the shadows on the side of her face and neck had been emphasized, it probably would have done the trick.
But I’m not touching this picture. Sarah likes it. I like it. I learned, and now it’s time to apply that to the next piece….