Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Painting Your Kids Can Be Hard

Girl Reading
36" x 36"
Acrylic on Canvas

I started this painting late spring/early summer. I remember being super ambitious and optimistic when I started it. Made huge progress mapping out the base cartoon before everything ground to a halt.

I'm pretty protective of my kids when it comes to portraiture. I don't tend to do much full facial/eye contact work of them. Partly because I don't want to get it wrong, partly because... the way they look at me/to me is special and really difficult to capture.

I tend to stick with figure studies and side views for them which suits me fine. As they get older, I am also growing increasingly aware that they have insecurities like other kids their age. My daughter wants her hair to lay a certain way, they have clothing that suits their increasingly individual look.

When tempted to do a portrait I try to be sensitive of this, knowing that there is a lot of trust they put in me to represent them in a way that they would approve of.

So back to this portrait... I got locked up on getting stuff right. Those of you who paint will know that this leads to a downwards spiral of making the painting tighter and stilted in the pursuit of fixing it. Pair that with not wanting a portrait that my kid would be bothered by....

I left it on my easel for a few weeks. Then on the floor. Then turned it to the wall. Then banished it to the basement.

It wasn't until I started my Koi piece that I figured out how to loosen the painting back up. I soaked it in thin washes and partly obliterated edges and lines only to push back in areas with opaque paint to re-establish the forms. It became a very engaging push/pull effect. Almost like a tango.

My daughter and I are both okay with the outcome. (Even if my photo of the painting isn't the best!)

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