In case you haven’t noticed, I love painting two people together. Kissing, whispering, dancing the tango…I relish the interaction and the intimacy. I also like to vary my painting experiences by taking a break from one subject to the next, by working in color after black and white, by painting a small canvas after a couple of large ones. I think it allows me to approach every new painting with a fresh eye. And so At Last is a small canvas, filled with color and a sensuous image of two people who I imagine have finally managed to fulfill a mutual fantasy.
Today our bright and beautiful oldest granddaughter, Isabelle Tess, turns 17. It’s hard to believe that 17 years have passed in what seems like the blink of an eye, but the high school junior who gets her driver’s license today is surely proof. As any grandparent can tell you, it’s a remarkable privilege to be able to live to watch your children raise their children and the thrill of a lifetime to see them do it so well. We couldn’t be more proud. Happy birthday, Izzy!
My project in Florida continues, as I go on to complete the triptych I’ll be calling “Three Sisters,” with a portrait of Izzy & Maddie’s 8 year old sister, Cassie. I’ve written before about the intimate nature of painting someone’s portrait. You spend hours gazing at a face, trying to unlock the secrets of resemblance, and can’t help but feel a connection, even if you’re using a photograph, rather than painting a live model. Painting portraits has given me a much greater understanding of those artists throughout time who have fallen in love with their muses, but in my case, the love came first…
Haven’t I Seen You Here Before?
You feel like you get to know people when you paint them (staring into their faces for hours at a time), and when you paint two people, you find a narrative for them. Haven’t I Seen You Here Before? describes a man trying to pick up a woman with the oldest line in the world, which is likely the cause of her slight smirk.
Room 503 paints the woman as the aggressor…
Let’s Get Out of Here
as does Let’s Get Out of Here, though that appears to be more of an invitation than a full press.
Shh…Don’t Tell Anyone
Shh…Don’t Tell Anyone seems the least suggestive of this group—more a secret being told than any desire being expressed. But these are only my narratives…what do you think?
There’s something very intimate about painting portraits. The act of studying a face intently, reproducing its planes and contours on a canvas, seeing it emerge until your subject is looking back at you…is exceedingly personal. Many artists have fallen in love with their muses, but I contend that even painting from a photograph provides a connection between painter and subject that gives me, at least, that feeling of intimacy that informs the work.
My granddaughters have been frequent subjects of mine, always drawn from photographs. I’ve been painting them for the last fifteen years, completely smitten with them all. Lasa Grey is my son’s first child, about to celebrate her first birthday, and this is the second time I’ve painted her. The beautiful infant I couldn’t take my eyes off of last summer is growing and walking and giggling and delighting us all.
Dancing in the Dark
I usually paint my tango dancers on a colored ground, my focus being the image, not the setting. But over the last couple of years, my friend, Jeff Fay, a wonderfully talented young artist who specializes in architectural paintings (jhutchinsonfay.com), did a few night paintings—a convenience store, a gas station, an ice cream stand—that blew me away. I loved the atmosphere that black background created and thought it would work in a tango painting, enhancing the mood and highlighting the intimacy. It took me some time before I got to paint this, but I knew before I started that I would call it Dancing in the Dark.