Changing the Subject: From Flowers to People
Aug 7, 2017
The other day, one of my fellow watercolor students referred to me as the class "flower expert." How nice! Then another artist friend began bringing me photos of flowers that she thought I might want to paint. Most recently, I got a number of orders for sunflower paintings from a friend and her family members. That's when I started thinking that perhaps I was stuck in a rut. I love flowers, but I am certainly artistically inspired by more than just botanical specimens. So when I heard someone refer to another classmate as the "portrait expert", I decided I had to expand my repertoire. (After all, I want to vye for the title of "people expert" also. I'm quite competitive!)
You may have noticed that I just added a new page to my online Gallery -- "People." It only has three pieces so far, but look for more in the near future. Painting people is much harder than painting flowers. After all, no one notices if a flower has a misshapen petal or two or if the stem of a rose is perhaps a shade too thick. But a portrait is a different story. The slightest inaccuracy in a face -- a cheek that is slightly too hollow or an eyelid that is a bit too heavy -- will render a portrait unrecognizable, especially to the subject of the portrait. After my daughter looked at a portrait I had painted of her one day and asked, "Who is that supposed to be?", I knew I was never going to be a successful portrait artist. But I do enjoy painting people. In fact, most of the drawings I did as a child were of people. And adding a person to a painting immediately enhances it's interest level because --well, people like looking at people!
Unfortunately, I don't have many people around to serve as subjects. At home, there's just me and my husband. All the other members of my family are a state away and are not around much for me to badger for a photograph. So I have taken to photographing strangers. Luckily, I have a camera with a pretty decent zoom lens. Otherwise, I might have already come under suspicion for stalking children with my camera. (Although I was once confronted by a suspicious neighbor when he saw me lurking behind his bushes with my camera. I explained to him that I was an artist and that the play of sunlight and shadow on his rhododendron flowers had attracted my attention. He instantly turned very welcoming and took me on a tour of his entire garden where I had to take pictures of all kinds of less well lit floral specimens!)
I hope to be adding to my new Gallery page soon with more paintings of people and children -- maybe even of you! Of course, you would be highly unlikely to recognize yourself or any of your children in one of my paintings, but you certainly might wonder at how similar the clothing in my painting looks to one of your own outfits.
Now that I have your interest, you may want to take a look at the clothing of the children in my newest People Gallery additions. For "Summer Kids," I captured a great shot of three children who hopped onto a fence to look at the Metolius River right when I had my camera out. And for "Beach Kids," I used my telephoto lens to capture three different children exploring the tidepools at Cape Perpetua and I fit all three into one composition. Enjoy!