Words about Portraiture
I have been involved in portraiture since approx 1981 when I sat in Piccadilly London, drawing portraits on the streets, unsure after leaving art school about how to make a living.
I had no idea that portraits would be so difficult, but so addictive, so rewarding, and so mentally challenging.
How you paint a portrait says so much about the attitude of the artist to the sitter. I have noticed that some portrait artists put loving attention into the possessions of the subject, glossing lightly over the details in the face, giving in my opinion credence to materialist values of the person depicted.
Other notable artists work in the Monet style, copying slavishly every colour and shade, shutting out entirely any interpretation of the character of the model. Lucian Freud proports to have no understanding of people whatsoever, his portraits appear like slabs of meat. This could be enterpreted as elevating the importance of the spiritual aspect of humanity over the purely physical.
My approach is to concentrate on the character of the subject, using physical appearance to express an aspect of the personality. I like to work quickly without too much information! so that I can remember the all too important first impression. This way the portrait retains movement and spontaneity, creating I think a more accurate representation of life.
Penny Bearman Sep.10th 2009