When I was learning how to draw (and I still am, of course, as we never really stop), I remember thinking “if I can just get this drawing to look like the person, it will be a success”. But, once I satisfied that desire, the pleasure I get when completing a portrait never waned. I’ve been told I’m particularly good at portraits. I specifically remember a time during an art show when I was in the Ryman Program for young artists when Susan Bay Nimoy (Leonard’s wife) came up to me to tell me she’d keep her eye on me after seeing a watercolor portrait I made in class; she said it was the only one that actually looked like the specific model.
Watercolor of a Woman – 1999
That small compliment certainly buoyed my confidence for a while, even if it completely faltered for a long while in college. I don’t think I’ve ever really doubted my technique, but I’ve always doubted my purpose. I put enormous pressure on myself to tackle huge questions and concepts. By the time I was 16 I would often bite off more than I could chew, I stopped enjoying painting and drawing and art just for the simple pleasure and act of creating something from scratch, and having control over pigment. I completely ignored design, which, in hindsight was totally and completely mislead seeing as a have a strong affinity for it. I eschewed the idea of a painting just being something to look pretty on a wall, and now I think, what’s wrong with that!? Sure, art can have a very significant impact on our world, but ultimately it does hang on a wall. And so, now almost 7 years after college, now that I have no one to answer to but myself–no boss, no professor, no room full of peers, no critics–I feel a certain freedom to just draw and paint whatever aesthetic I want to, with no other purpose than to capture a moment, to explore a medium, to create a mood. I’m only annoyed at myself for being so contrived in college, although A for effort, I guess. I guess it’s similar to how I never read any “fluff” books around then either. I was too busy trying to be serious all the time. My aunt told me it wasn’t good for someone my age, lol. And there is some critically acclaimed fluff. I think all of this just taught me the hard lesson of subtlety.
A little study from an ad I did last year
So, I’ve been feeling myself drawn (ha!) to portraiture again. And not as something to look at, but as a process, hopefully with an ending some people (usually the subject of the drawing) will enjoy, but that’s not necessary. Although, to be fair, I completed the below drawings of my nephews and niece as Christmas presents, and the purpose was certainly for their parents to enjoy the finished product. :) I’m also doing most work in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop; seeing as I never took any computer design courses in college, and almost all of my professional work has been done using these programs, I’ve been itching to make portraits digitally since I taught myself how to use them! Also, and this is actually the critical point, it is just much easier to make things in the computer with 9 month old Laelia roaming about; no paint to sit and dry out, no canvases to be ruined or paper to get ripped [everything is set up on my dining room (a.k.a. sewing a.k.a craft a.k.a drafting) table just in case the I get the chance to]. I’m hoping to do some commissioned work, selling my services on Etsy.
Oliver & Gweneth