Portrait of a French Girl – sold

frenchgirl

Oil on hardboard panel, 8″x6″

This is another of my portraits of imaginary people from the past. Don’t ask me why she’s French, that just seemed to come to mind as I was painting her. She was a difficult girl to paint, elusive, challenging, different. The paint didn’t want to stay where I put it on the board but it created some interesting effects. She was painted in one very long session and the slippery quality of the paint made the brushwork rather distinct. It’s an unusual look but I decided to go with it. The colors didn’t blend quite like I’m used to but it retained a fresh, wet appearance even after drying.

As she emerged from the chaos of the painting she brought to mind smokey Parisian cafes, red wine and existentialist conversations. Mysterious, with a hint of deep passions, I could imagine a girl like this holding the attention of the Lost Generation.

Portrait of a Dance Hall Girl – sold

dancehall

Oil on hardboard panel, 8″x6″

This painting is another in a series of what I think of as “creative portraits”. They aren’t any existing person but are usually inspired by old B&W photos and stories of the past. They start to take on a life of their own as I paint and become about an imaginary character and mood.

This girl reminded me of the taxi-dance girls in the dance halls of the 1920s and 30s. Paid a dime a dance, it was a somewhat scandalous yet relatively lucrative profession for young women in an era where opportunities were limited. I think anyone who was able to make a living that way had to be tough yet charming. This girl looks like she’s got a lot of spunk and wouldn’t take any nonsense from drunken louts.

Portrait of a Blonde Flapper – sold

daisy

Oil on canvas, 10″x8″

Although she’s decidedly a girl of the 1920s, while painting this one she started to remind me a bit of Botticelli’s Madonnas. The Cestello Annunciation in particular…maybe something about her golden hair and sweet but uncertain expression. So I went with a hint of Renaissance colors in the coral red of her outfit and the faded blue of the background.

Portrait Study of a Young Man – sold

jd

Oil on canvasboard, 10″x8″

This is a quick portrait study I did of a beautiful young man with dreamy eyes. He has a renaissance look about him so painted him with something of a Caravaggio flavor. I liked how it turned out so I might persuade this model to pose for me as Bacchus one day.

 

Standing Male Nude – sold

Standingman

Oil on hardboard panel, 12″x9″

This painting is a classic figure study. Figurative subjects are my favorite and I love the challenge of painting nudes. Especially male nudes as they tend to have more defined musculature. There are few things more difficult to paint than the human body and I have to admit that the contrapposto stance gave me some trouble…but I think I pulled it off.

I was told by a male friend that I made the penis too large in this painting. I wasn’t trying to be shocking or make a statement here, the model’s penis just happens to be on the large side. But this comment made me wonder, do artists have to “tone down” that part of the body or risk having it come off as erotica? It’s just a normal part of a human body, why is there so much baggage? If a female model happens to have large breasts is it somehow more tasteful or artistic to shrink those? I spent a lot of time in art school drawing whoever happened to be naked in front of me on the model stand, did this throw me out of alignment with what regular people see in a nude? Obviously there’s no answer to the various questions that occurred to me but it does make me wonder….

Portrait of a Redhead – sold

Redhead

Oil on hardboard panel, 10″x8″

Playing with color again. The starting point for this painting was an old black and white photo so that left a lot of room for invention. I’m not sure where the red hair came from but she seemed to want to be a redhead and it was fun to paint.

I’m finding that conveying emotion is increasingly important to me in these “portraits”. Even though they are largely invented from my imagination they also seem to create themselves and have their own personalities. Happily, I’m starting to relax with this odd feeling that I’m not in complete control and trusting what emerges in my paintings.