Conventional portraits are tricky. No matter how well an artist has reproduced a likeness, the subject is likely to be disappointed. I hardly know a woman who is satisfied with a photograph of herself, much less with an artist’s vision of how she looks. And I don’t mean to let men off the hook–they have their vanity, too. But pop portraits extract the barest information to form an image–if they were photos, they’d have been airbrushed. Who wouldn’t like that?
The first pop portrait I painted, Anticipation, was inspired by an ad in a catalog for skin and beauty products. Even though the image is cropped to show only noses, mouths and chins, I thought the couple vaguely resembled my husband and me–he’s got a beard and is always tan, certainly darker than pale me–so I painted it to have it hang over our bed in Florida. No matter how old we are, we’ll always look sexy on that wall!
Soon after, I came across an old sepia print of a movie still for “Cafe Metropole,” starring Tyrone Power and Loretta Young. A little creative cropping ensued, and I painted Fantasy. I’ve never heard of nor seen that movie, but I like to think that my painting is ambiguous enough so that you don’t know if she’s his fantasy or he’s hers.
Almost all of my pop portraits of women are painted from photos of models, some well known and some anonymous. When I can, I like to hang them like photo booth prints.