Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Martha Miller has been writing lately about her angst about doing a portrait for commission. I myself have thought over all of the pros and cons of doing portraits and whether the sitter will like the work. So far, so good, all my subjects have been to kind to tell me if they loathed my work.

Part of the problem is that where do you target your attempt at a true likeness of the subject. I have been doing some practice drawing for my blog from photos using charcoal and working from photos. I find that working for a more true likeness kind of like shooting fish in a barrel. You take time doing a really good layout using a transfer methods such as a grid, projection, camera obscura, or tracing and then it is a matter of paint by numbers. The hard part is putting more of yourself into the work.

June, Charcoal on paper, 8"x10"

Little Yellow Idol, Oil on canvas, 18"x 24"(Gallery View)

I like charcoal because it does so much of the work of for me. I like the way you get areas where the mark making is so lovely. Take for instance the portrait of Laura from my post of February 12, the hands turned out very nice. My take is that for a good portrait from a photo, the photo has to be good, well composed with good lighting. I'm not a good photographer so I take many photos and hope after the model quits posing I get photos that reflect the person I want to portray.

This goes to the heart of the matter. The portrait is a collaboration between the model and the artist. Both must relax and show themselves and they both have to bring part of themselves and invest it in the work.
But, then, I'm just kind of going on without knowing what I'm talking about.

Have an exciting evening.



Elizabeth Seaver said...

Wow! The painting is great, but I really love the charcoal one. It is just lovely.

I found your post on Martha's blog and came on over to see what you're doing. It's great.

Martha Miller said...

Hi Brad!

Thankyou for your comments on my blog and your thoughts here today. This charcoal drawing is a stunner! I like it so much more than the painting. I agree about the lovliness of charcoal, and the greats marks it makes! Thought you'd like the word verification I'm seeing here:

so, carry on with your crayon! :*)have a great weekend!

Martha Miller said...

great marks.