Character Development

Dec 1, 2019

When I first started painting in earnest, and by that, I mean spending a good chunk of my waking time in the pursuit of my craft, one of the concepts I found elusive was the idea of creating a “body of work.”

I wasn’t particularly interested in tying myself down to only painting one subject or to limit myself to only landscapes or unicorns or just one color. I embrace change in the rest of my life, so why not in the studio?

As it happens, I have naturally slipped into painting two main subjects, flowers and children. Yes, the random clementine will catch my fancy and I’ll indulge myself in that. And I do enjoy abstract drawing binges as well.  They free my imagination and help me hone my color sense. But I have come to realize that I have drifted towards these two main bodies of work.

It’s hard to explain but I see them as more similar than not.

Early on I began thinking of my paintings of flowers, especially those of a single blossom, as portraits. Working so closely on them I find myself thinking of them as characters. Some are youthful and exuberant, bursting with life and vitality. Others exhibit grace or defiance or resilience. So, it seemed logical that my work on these flowers would naturally segue into painting real people with real personalities and lives. And as I try to resolve a spatial or color problem in the portrait of a person I reflect back on my experience painting flowers. One informs the other.

My aim, whether I am painting a child or a flower bud is to express their/its essence. Which brings me to the etching of this young woman.

I was recently asked to join in with a select group of artists to reinterpret a piece of art currently in the permanent collection of the Attleboro Arts Museum Arts Museum in Attleboro Massachusetts. The director sent me a selection of images from which to choose. I chose this one, Portuguese Girl by William Paxton. All of the images she sent were interesting, but I was drawn to this one, I think because she is like a single flower giving me a sidelong gaze. I’m starting to formulate a response to it and am hoping to provide my fans with some kind of a timeline of its development.

Stay tuned!

If you’re interested in watching its progress, follow me on Facebook or Instagram and see what comes of it.

Painting: Portuguese Girl by William Paxton