Sunday, April 12, 2009

Seeing Red


 I've been working for a week and 1/2 on my first portrait (no not this one!) for Sheila and Carrie's Art for Animals Project. I thought I was close with my painting of Trixie, who's being fostered by the great folks at the Prince George's County SPCA/Humane Society in Maryland. I sent a jpeg to my friend who volunteers there, and she gently pointed out that Trixie is a dark brindle, and not the pale grey I seemed to have her.  Today I darkened her, lost the shape of things, made mud, tried to "fix" the background to help poor Trixie, and generally botched it up.  Which brings me to today's post of another stalled painting.  

In Progress: Oil on gessoed watercolor paper


This young model was trying her best to stay alert to no avail.  I tried my best to get some spark, but no luck.  No matter what I did,  the heavy-lidded bored expression crept back onto my canvas.  I brought the portrait back to my studio to finish, and started to think of her as a contemporary Turandot.  Do you know the famous opera poster of Puccini's mysterious, dark-eyed princess?  I decided I'd give my subject one of those knit hats with the ear flaps and tassles that teens wear, give her a nose ring, and intensify the red.  On a whim,  I blocked in the changes, and came to a roaring stop. I have no reference for the hat, and I'm thinking she looks more Ed Norton from the Honeymooners than Princess Turandot.  She's now holding court in a corner of my studio with the rest of my Where do I Go From Here stack, which sits next to the What on Earth was I Thinking pile. Tomorrow I'll tackle Trixie the foster pup again. (Wasn't Norton's wife named Trixie?)

Thanks so much to all of you who have been leaving such kind comments.  You galvanize me to keep painting.

65 comments:

Sheila said...

OMG!!! I'm trying to muffle my laughter because my kids are trying to sleep! You my friend are hilarious as you are talented.

I'm tickled pink and several other colors that your working on a portrait for the project. Don't be so hard on yourself. I had one dog so red, she looked like Lucille Ball's twin but they loved it any way. When I saw the actually pooch, she was actually more brownish grey. ???

I love what you did with the model. Hey, she was probably thinking she wasn't making enough money to pose in a more interested way. I'll have to call you one day and ask you how you do that oil on paper thing. HUGS!!!

artbyakiko said...

Liz, I can't believe you painted over the first version of this portrait. It's BEAUTIFUL! I love the expression. I actually love everything. OK, you must know what you are doing. Looking forward to your final version. :)
Also looking forward to your Trixie painting!

Rob Hazzard said...

Liz, you should see my "I can't believe I wasted many hours on this painting" pile. Remember, try and fail, but don't fail to try.

Manon Doyle said...

I also actually loved the first version of your portrait but I do know what it's like to hate it and get stuck. The answer will come......lol..... well... it usually comes!
BTW.... about your Trixie painting. I had a pet portrait commission last year that I did for a client. She gave me a ton of pics to work off. I swore her dog was black and painted him so. When I finished I posted the painting and she left a comment that she loved the piece but that her dog was actually chocolate brown! Ugh! I had to go in and change the whole coat! lol

Ann Buckner said...

The first version is so good and the repainted version is well on its way. No doubt when your vision and thoughts come together you will pull this painting from the "Where do I Go From Here" stack.

Sandra Galda a Daily Painter said...

Hi I am with out town family over Easter, but visited your blog and saw this---spectacular!

FCP said...

Oh, how funny! And how comforting to know that others have those "what on earth was I thinking" stacks too!
To me, she appears pensive, not bored, but totally understand your need to change it.
thanks for sharing,
Faye

Carol Schiff Studio said...

Liz, This is one beautiful painting and from what I can see, the hat would work! However, I much prefer her hair. You are one talented lady!

Carmen Beecher said...

Your comments have me LOL. I think the portrait is fabulous in both its iterations, and I would suggest you make Ed Norton's hat into an exotic turban. The fact is, you captured the exact expression most teenagers wear. You are good!

LSaeta said...

I really like your model's expression. No need to "happy her up". She looks more realistic this way. Very nicely done.

sam said...

I know how hard it is painting from life, so will always be very envious of your skill. I like the way you have enhanced the colours in the studio too!

Sara Winters said...

I love it! Its so typical of a teenager. I think the bored look works. Beautiful work!

L.Holm said...

Thanks for your comments always, Sheila!

Akiko -I can't believe it, either! I'm hoping I can figure it out and rescue this one :-)

Thanks, Rob- an excellent saying to remember!

Thanks, Manon- I sometimes don't think I see my own work clearly...and often until it's too late! Knowing when to stop and move on is a recurring challenge!

Thanks, Ann - hope you're right!

Thank you, Sandra. Safe travels.

Hi, Faye - oh, yes, the stack grows! :-)

Hi, Carol - in retrospect, I do, too!

Thanks for visiting, Carmen! Good idea about going more exotic.

thanks, Leslie!

Sam, thanks so much. I appreciate your comments always.

Thanks, Sara- you're so right about the "rather be anyplace else but here" look! :-)

Vern Schwarz said...

Yowza, adding an element without a reference takes guts Liz. I too liked the first version, but I think this second one has some great potential. Boliva and Tibet may have some clues for you with that hat if you haven't already discovered some good photos. By the way, do want to trade a couple of what was I thinking paintings...might be fun...ha!

L.Holm said...

Hi, Vern - Guts or stupidity. Hard to tell! I like your spin on it! : ) thanks for the research ideas. I'm glad I'm not the only one with a few head-slapping moments commemorated in paint.

Paintings by Irit Bourla said...

I love what you did with the model and to let you know I am crazy about RED. Any RED.
I see a tipical teenage look in her.Dont you?
You should be happy with this painting.Yes, keep painting!

Carolann said...

It's difficult to know when something should be just left as it is, I have murdered my paintings by changing them. I know sometimes you just have to take the painting on a different journey. Look forward to seeing this one when it's finished.

L.Holm said...

Thanks, Irit. I love red, too.

Carolann- So true! thanks for your comments.

Dana Cooper Fine Art said...

Liz, somehow I have missed your last few posts. I really like both paintings of this model. I often see (particularly after lunch) models who look like they are about to doze and I often think it's uninteresting but I think you captured something in her eyes that is speaking to a lot of us. But I do love the idea of somehow making her different too. Really well done on both counts!

L.Holm said...

Hi, Dana -Thanks so much! I've been experiencing the same thing with posts...will email....Liz

Edward Burton said...

You do amazing work painting from life, Liz - I greatly admire that.

Paul said...

Firtsly, thanks for the kind words on my blog :-)
I love the first painting, it's very enigmatic. I don't see bored, I see thoughtful, sadness .... lovely colours and skin tones :-)
We all have a 'where do I go from here pile' ... mine usually get painted over or re-discovered years later in a dark closet ;-)

Dean H. said...

Just had to tell you how much I liked this post! Your commentary is killer funny!
Loved the first version of "miss bored"...a highly typical look. The 2nd version holds a world of great possibilities.

L.Holm said...

Thanks so much, Edward.

Paul- thanks for visiting! I think you may be right about the expression, and am seeing her out of my own frustration.

Thanks, Dean! Appreciate it. I pray you're correct about the second version.

Peter Lee said...

Hi Liz,
First of all, thank you so much for visiting my blog and signing up to be a follower. Guess what?! As soon as I see your wonderful paintings, I'm your INSTANT follower! By the way, how do you manage to read all your fans' comments and reply them AND still find time to paint such gorgeous pieces with elaborate stories attached to them. I'm just amazed.
Back to your portrait work. I agree with many of your viewers that the first cut was actually pretty good. Capturing a bored look shouldn't be easy, and you did it! Also I believe the essence of a portrait painting is not how pleasant it looks but how genuinely express the model's personality as you observe it. But then I have to tell you that you are one brave soul who do not negotiate with yourself and go for the best of all the options. I think you are a true artist who never settle for less and pursue to perfect your creation.
Great inspiration for all of us !!!

r garriott said...

Yep, she's a teenager, alright... (reminds me of a teen we had for a photoshoot one day, who almost fell asleep in the middle of it). I like both versions. Love the addition of the nose ring, really plays up the whole 'bored rebel' look. Oddly though I can't seem to connect the vibrant colors of red in either to her torpid expression.

L.Holm said...

Thank you so much Peter for your detailed comments. I appreciate it.

R- thanks for your feedback. always welcome.

Gwen Bell said...

I'm still reeling that you painted such an exquisite portrait from life! I love her expression in both, but I also know what it is when you aren't happy with it yourself for whatever reason.
You are such a wonderful artist!

Angela Elledge said...

I teach 7th & 8th grade students and that heavy lidded bored look is one I'm familiar with, I think you were very successful in achieving teenagedom. And oh my, I have not sat in front of a live model in ages; your work is outstanding. I can't wait to see how the 2nd portrait develops.

Check out Thomas S. Buechner, in his book he talks about his subjects and feelings he tried to portray, one is of his young teenage grandson who posed for him. He describes his grandson's attitude as one with profound apathy, which is evident when you see the portrait. You can google Buechner and find his website. Another portrait of a young adolescent that is on his site is called Leslie -- he describes how the portrait is about apprehension, his and hers. She was overwhelmed at having an old man stare at her and he was overwhelmed at all of the pictorial possibilities and his limitations of painting her. Anyway, I just pulled out his book after I finished painting Sunday evening and decided to re-read it and then you posted your beautiful portraits.

As for Trixie, my Trixie this week was actually Henry a giant silver standard poodle whose hair looks like a lion's mane, anyway I messed with the background which led to messing with the mane and now it's in one of those piles you referred to, which by the way, I never knew what those piles were called. Thanks for clearing that up, too!

I did not intend for this to be so long-winded...

Douglas Hoover said...

That's how you do it! That's how an artist learns... you try your ideas and inspirations and see where it takes you and you're boldly doing just that!

Liz, you, my friend are an artist.

In awe... D.

L.Holm said...

Angela! You can tell your a teacher! : ) Thanks so much. I just checked out Buechner's website. Adore his portrait of Dale Chihuly. phenomenal!
re: your poodle. I have a poodle, and haven't been brave enough to paint all those curls. You're wonderful!

Douglas - heartfelt thanks to you. (back atcha...)

Jala Pfaff said...

Oh my god, you just made me laugh so hard. I don't know what else to say. :DDDD

Amazing job, too.

What you did reminds me of one time when my teacher, Michelle Philip, was doing a watercolor portrait demo. At one point, she kind of gazed at it (it was a made-up portrait of a pretty young woman) and then she gave it a unibrow. Just for kicks. :)

Jala Pfaff said...

P.S. I love that portrait of Dale Chihuly too, Liz.

Ann Rogers said...

Liz, both portraits are outstanding, which I can say for all of your posts. I'm most impressed that you could get a teenager to sit still for that long! Great job on all counts.

L.Holm said...

my response to Angela should be "you're a teacher." (Jeesh, embarrassing!) :-)

Jala- Glad you laughed! That unibrow must have been quite a surprise. funny!

Thanks, Ann. She wasn't holding terribly still! :-)

DEB said...

Liz, thank you for stopping by my blog..I had not discovered yours yet. What a treasure! You are an amazing portrait artist.

And the teen painting - I have 3 teenagers. They always look bored - even when they are having fun! Make her too perky looking, and she'll appear odd! :)

L.Holm said...

Good point, Deb. Thanks for stopping in!

Elenka said...

Your work is just beautiful. I especially like the one of your mom.....

Mona said...

Lol for your excellent sense of humor, but I agree with others in feeling that both versions are beautiful!

Thanks so much for your kind words about my portrait blog. It is mutual! Your work has such heart and emotional impact with great skill in a variety of mediums. Especially enjoyed the Victorian portrait in pastel of Annie Richards, and "Broadway".

Cathyann said...

I cannot stop laughing...after being on the computer all day today I finally have a chance to look at your site and uncross my eyes. :-OO thanks!!
Everyone else here is funny too! Gosh what competition. Not fair.

Geesh,Liz Those two are both excellent. Get them out of those piles. ( thanks for naming them..got several myself....)
So what if she is bored? She is, so like um like uh... You got the look and that is great! As for the Ed Norton, Ralph Cramden thing...get out!(Actually She is looking a little Yoda to me.)

Angela recommended an excellent book Confessions of a Sunday Painter by Tom Buechner.....
Thanks for visiting my Cole today.
Hugs

CONRAD said...

Liz, I am honored for the kind post on my blog’ especially since your work is soooo amazing.

Michelle Burnett said...

Liz, you're so much fun! I think your portrait is wonderful.

Can't wait to see Trixie. I'm afraid I wouldn't even know what color "brindle" is!

L.Holm said...

Thank you Elenka!

Mona-thank you so much. Your work is truly inspirational!

Cathyann, LOL! Yoda. Oh no. I see it now! Your Cole is superb. And great profile pic, my friend!

Steve - most welcome, and thank you.

Hi, Michelle. Trixie's darker today, but still not "postable."

Sara Winters said...

I tagged you for the "A Passion for Painting Award" because you are one of my favorite artists, and you are such an inspiration to me. If you want to do anything with it, the details are on my blog.

Kim VanDerhoek said...

You are a crack up! I love that you took out your artistic license and experimented with her. She does look sleepy but she is beautifully painted - you even got the reflected light in her eyes.

Kathleen Coy said...

Liz, thank you so much for the kind words you left on my blog. Your work is incredible! I'm so glad you found me, so I could find you, lol!

Deirdre said...

Hi L. Every time I visit your blog it is like a kick in the but to try harder. You are a true inspiration!

artbymj said...

How have I not run across your beautiful artwork before now? I look forward to following your postings from now on. I really like this painting and the direction it's headed - it tells a story this way - don't leave it in that pile for too long!

Maggie Mayer said...

This is beautiful Liz.

Galina Nikolova said...

Hi Liz,

They both are very good. I find very impressive the light mode you create the face lines.
Regards

L.Holm said...

Thanks so much, Sara!
Thanks, Kim - I appreciate your comments
Kathleen-thanks for visiting!
Hi, Dierdre- I appreciate your kind words!
MJ-thanks for visiting!
Dearest Maggie and Galina-thank you both.

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

I like it both ways but the second one is much more interesting. Find a hat reference, and you have a winner.

Marco Folchi said...

Hello Liz, fine painting, i love the way you painted the double light source, warm and cool, prima job! Best, Marco.

L.Holm said...

Thank you, Mary - I'm still searching for the reference.

Marco - welcome back from vacation, and grazie mille!

http://www.onpainting.wordpress.com said...

The model portrait really has lovely flesh color and the hair is so natural. However I can feel your boredom after so many bored looking faces one would like to come up with a "painting". Can't count the number I have screwed up. This one still holds promise. I bet you have the ability to make a real painting of it.

PainterLee said...

you have captured the very essence of blogging to me! the honesty of posting both paintings and your explanation about your insecurity about the first one just blows me away! thank you soooo very much for being so honest about your struggle. sometimes i think i should never paint again. i look at talented people like you and i quake with insecurity. it's nice to know you are human and struggle just like the rest of us! God bless you!

L.Holm said...

Hi, Bill. Thanks. Hope you're right.

Lee- thanks very much. I know that insecurity very well. I appreciate your kind comments.

Gary Keimig said...

You say the subject was bored. I'm thinking that is so natural for a teenager and I think that boredom shows through on the painting and that you captured that. I think it turned out great. Good job

L.Holm said...

Thanks so much for your comments, Gary. I appreciate it!

Barbara M. said...

Liz,

This cracks me up. I actually like that sleepy apathetic look before the cap and nose ring. How about a rewind? No. Well then, another model could wear the hat, and you could finish what will be a fascinating portrait. Wonderful work.

Barbara

L.Holm said...

LOL. thanks Barbara. I sure wish I could hit that rewind button!

Tom Pohlman said...

Liz- Like everybody else- Love em' both! I think the vapid expression conveys a natural attitude. Have you considered swapping the t-shirt out with more of a gaudy "stage dress" ala Sargents "Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth"?

Dean Grey said...

Liz!

I love the way the portrait looked until you added that darn hat!

Oh, now it looks kind of silly. Sort of reminds me of a person drawing a mustache on a poster of someone's face.

It's like your way of getting back the model for looking so bored. Now she's immortalized wearing that crazy cap on her head!

LOL

-Dean

L.Holm said...

LOL! right you are, Dean!

Karen Appleton said...

Hey Liz,
I am having so much fun checking out your blog. I had to stop here and leave a note. I am so very impressed with your tackling a big alteration like this in a painting without a second thought. Your painting skills are excellent, and I am glad to have found your blog.