"Everybody knows a work of art takes at least an hour!" Lucy to Linus, (Peanuts)

FineArtViews Painting Competition - Twice in the Fav 15%

http://canvoo.com/boldbrush/badge/13203 three times selected for FAV15%, Fine Art Views Bold Brush Painting Competition

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Working From Life

               life sketch of Heather, 1/2 hour    pastel   14"x18"

There is nothing I enjoy more than working from life. If all I ever wanted to do was paint or draw still life & landscapes this would not be a problem but I was born seemingly preprogramed to be mainly interested in the human face and form and they are my favorite subject to work with. This presents the problem of finding models. Who is willing to pose endlessly for hours and days, maybe weeks or months? Professional models will. For money. It adds up to a lot of money which I don't possess.  I have already used up the good graces of many friends and family members by making them pose and most find excuses not to. Plus now I live in the middle of nowhere so I don't even see many people I can even ask in the first place. Samanda has been great but her time is limited up here so I took photos. Children like to pose, or think they like to until they actually have to, then they get squirmy. So I take photos.
People who commission me for portraits and have the money to pay for them do not have the time to pose, so I take photos. Working from photos, while ok and perfectly valid, is just not the same as working from life. The living, breathing person has an essence that cannot be captured in a photo. The skin tones look different, the movement of the diaphragm causes subtle changes in the pose which can be painted in over time and add a life to the image that a static photo does not possess. It is one reason why life drawing sessions are so valuable. I have considered the use of mannikins but they are stiff and can't be placed in many of the poses that a living person can manage. I have actually been thinking about making a soft sculpture mannikin to try, which I could pose and drape and light but I suspect the resulting work would only look like a soft sculpture mannikin posed and draped and lit.  I'm afraid it has to be the real thing.  I bet if some of you lived near me you'd do it.  My husband has already said "No."


  1. did you see the movie 'the girl with the pearl earring'? he used a life sized mann. for PART of the painting - according to the movie . . . anyway - i think SOMEONE would pose for you or what if the person posed for a limited time and used photos as well?

  2. Karen, I am finding the same thing. I miss the luxury of the live models at school. There just is no substitute is there? The pastel is amazing. Looking forward to when I have the skill to do as much in a 1/2 hour. If you do construct a good mannikin stand in please post it here! Now you've got me thinking...

  3. I'd pose if you would trade a pose. When I go for sculpture adventures-classes, we always have several models who pose for hours, days, weeks on end. It's a tough job. Some say they stare off into their own world as we sculpt around them. Others just think of projects and events coming up. My favorite model was a man named Paul. He seemed to be oblivious to all of us and had a special energy coming from his being that it is hard to explain..yet..you basically did explain it. It's the subtle changes in the model that bring out the real life and heart of the consequential painting.

  4. Beautifully done, and in such a short time.