Here is the study I did for this painting (minus the last few brush strokes to finish it):
The model I was painting was a beautiful woman in her 50’s. I decided it would be a good challenge to paint her younger because it would force me to understand how the light interacts with her flesh. It wasn’t easy and if anything, it was a good reminder of the need to further study the anatomy of the head. As usual, trying to draw from imagination is the best way to realize how well you have the form conceptualized (or not!).
It was interesting, and I appreciate how the model brought this mood and attitude with her to her sitting sessions (most notably at first! before it started being boring and uncomfortable I’m sure).
This painting got me thinking of just how much of myself I bring into a painting vs. how much it is about capturing the model.
I think nowadays (or maybe always!) it is considered graceful to focus on capturing the essence of the model who is sitting for the artist. Paintings are usually named after the sitter, as well. But for me, I always make it about myself and how I feel – even when it is a male model. It is a human being, and that is enough for me to relate to their experience.
I feel like when I re-create them on my canvas that figure exists in a different universe. And I capture how they feel while in that world. It’s almost like writing a story in the third person… Often this form of writing makes the writer relate to the characters more personally than if they wrote it in first person form.