31 PORTRAITS IN 31 DAYS
I am so very excited to announce the beginning of a new project. I will be painting one 3 hour portrait every day of the month in August, 2105. Wow!! Right?? Yes, 31 in 31 days. Can you believe that I am this crazy to attempt such a goal? Well, the truth is that I believe that this is a do'able experiment and that the outcome will be a huge growth in my own learning process.
My personal goal: As a painter, I am always looking for ways to become better. As I become aware of so many other portrait artists through the centuries and present who paint these porcelain colors in the skin, I am intrigued. I have been playing with new mixtures of color and how they actually apply to my models. No one has the same coloring especially those with dark golden skin tones. And I want to see how this applies to everyone. It feels like the artists who have the best portraits tend to be artists who only chose a certain type of model with really pale skin. I want to see if I can use these new skin colors universally and have the effect that I want. I am sure that with this much intense study I will start to find how they apply in an overall approach.
I think there must be a way to achieve that buttery skin color that makes flesh look like flesh, as healthy, glowing skin. I guess so far, I have applied that California dream of having a tan and golden skin. But, I feel that I need to experience this exercise to make myself grow in my ability to capture even more lifelike coloring. I am really loving the work of Bouguereau, Sargent, Schmid, and Shanks. I want to make my skin look supple, healthy, and soft in the first layer of paint. That means I may go to using more paint and texture. So, this is my goal in this exercise.
The outcome: I will be compiling a book for my students from this exercise with my study and findings. I am not sure what that looks like yet, but I am very excited about what is to come. I cannot wait to begin.
The process: So far, I have purchased the canvases, lined up my models, and written to them with the model releases as well as a sheet to tell me a bit about them personally. I have always felt that a person's character comes through in their features. I often find myself learning about a person's life experiences and looking at their face and hands to see where that characteristic shows and if it does. Many things are very subtle and on each person they are a bit different. But, reading people is my life's passion. So, this exercise is all about creating a study of a person with what I see. I asked them to tell me a bit about themselves too so that when you look at this book you will read about them in their own words and see if you see some of what I do in their features.
My next job is to paint all 40 18 x 24" canvases in a middle tone of gray. The paintings will be just head and shoulder paintings. I expect that I will handle it with the goal of creating a study that has loose edges where the paint stroke may just evaporate into the outer painting. I do not plan on adding any background.
My obstacles: Wow! There might be a couple... I am not sure what they are right now. And my experience is that the ones I anticipate won't be an issue but others will crop up. So, I need to be able to keep a balanced approach and be willing to just see what happens. My dear friend Cynthia tells me that I need to plan food ahead of time and have someone to help me. I think she has a foresight into these things far more than I do. I am not too worried about this. I may buy a lot of Trader Joe's healthy Passadena salads, shrimp spring rolls, and quinoa salads. (My favorite splurges when I am there!)
I think the one thing I can identify as a possibly tough situation will be Wednesdays. I have two classes I teach on Wed. So, my models are scheduled at either 7AM or 6:30 PM. This will be my challenge day. But, I believe I can do this and it is only one day a week. LOL ... I am not a morning person and teaching two classes leaves me a bit tired. So, either way this is gong to be my toughest day. Overall, though, I won't be teaching three of my 5 classes per week and this will be my largest goal throughout this month with my strong focus. So, I do believe I can handle it!
Fears: One fear that I have might be that someone won't show up as scheduled and then the 3 backup alternative models won't be able to fill in at the last minute. In this situation I will paint myself, if I cannot find a willing person.
Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. wrote, "Ships in harbor are safe, but that is not what they are built for!" in her book Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway. This is one of my first favorite books and I have always gone back to it when I take on a project. She has a great way of putting our own personal feelings into perspective that resounded within me. I strive to be stronger than my original self was, daily.
Another fear is that I will have a bad day. Painters work hard on their paintings. We can't all be "On" every day of the year. I pray that I have enough strength as a painter and trained artist that I can pull each and every painting up to the standards I hold for myself. It is hard work.
My mentor and friend, Igor Babailov once said, "people say ... 'oh, you are having fun, you are just an artist' but they are wrong. This is hard work!" And he is right. To become a great artist you must work and study, continually questioning your approach and looking for a better one. There isn't a moment that your brain is quiet. The thoughts of contemplation about angle, depth, value, composition, color, contrast, anatomy structure, and more are constantly playing and over-playing in our minds as we strive to make a beautiful but true piece of art.
The outcome: Those who know me, know that I am a pretty spiritual person and that I believe in the power of God. I am also very accepting of everyone else's choice to believe what they want. But, this idea was one that came to me at a moment that I believe I was led to. So, I pray the outcome is larger than I expect. It is in his hands. I am only the vessel of delivery.
With that said, if you have any opportunity to further the public reach of this project, I would definitely appreciate any and all help.