Night time River Cruise, Saranac River 6x12

Night time River Cruise, Saranac River 6x12
Night Time River Cruise, Saranac River 6x12View at Strand Center for the Arts Plattsburgh, NY

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Mirror Image

Diane - Spring '14 Selfie
Yes this is me. One of my sitters had asked early on if I was doing a portrait of myself. The question jolted me like sticking my finger into an electric socket. I had not given it a thought. Then another sitter – a scientist – asked when I do it, would I turn it around? Another zap.

Here is the answer, with some musings. No I wouldn't turn it around. That would be two mirrors and asking for 14 years of bad luck if I proved less than graceful in my studio, which could be entirely possible. One mirror was enough.

The musing. When I see myself in the mirror what I see is a reverse of the real world. Sure it is what people see in a general way, but the reality is I do not see myself ever the way others do. I look and think of how I look from the moment I first peer in the mirror in the morning to the last time at night, brushing my teeth, as a mirror image.  That is a lot of time working on the reverse image in my head, don't you think? We all do that.

When I make a Face to Face portrait of a person, I am not seeing what their own perception of their own face is, what their mental image was from that morning.  I am working from what I see, not a mirror image.

Does that change how someone reacts to seeing their portrait after being worked on for two hours? I suspect that is a bit of it.

There are other factors. 

Making a portrait in a couple of hours with talk and other distractions is akin to live theatre. Kids want to wiggle, people want to talk, the body wants to be in motion. Some have other things on their mind and are not in the moment. It can be me too, not finding the right color, a bad start to a morning, "a piece of bad potato." Live theatre is no different, every performance is a little different,  timing on or not; a dropped line or all in perfect sequence.

After a couple of hours have gone by in the process of making a portrait, I feel like the person is looking at me from two places – the work and the person. About that time I feel I am real close to the raw but finished piece and I let the sitter look at it. Sit where I have been sitting and look at the image, I say.

This is the moment of truth for me. For the most part I have worked hard to catch the person in the painting, the essence, not every flaw or wrinkle (not enough time), but the person who has chosen to share a couple of hours with me to talk, listen and let me see them.  

I am learning, it doesn't always work. Sometimes that person just doesn't "see" themselves in the work. Hear the sound of the pin prick in the balloon?

I think some of that reaction, is the reality of how we see ourselves, mostly in reverse. Then maybe too I just haven't quite gotten who is there. That will happen.

I promise to always do my best to capture the essence of the person across from me. From there, I work on making best better.
How many do you know?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Tyranny of a Full Moon in April.

Easter will arrive two Sundays from now.

I have returned from my sojourn in much warmer and sunnier climes. It is now mud season in the Adirondacks, and Easter as mentioned before, is two Sundays from now. What's with that and just what does in mean for my Face to Face project? I can't be certain but in Saranac Lake it will mean two things: one can land an airplane on Main Street for Easter vacation. The other is - maybe one cannot - if the Village has its way. (Think major road repair.)

What about Easter and the moon? - one says scratching the head perplexed. Easter has been pledged by the powers that be, to arrive only on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. Consequently school is out and half the population of Saranac Lake is in Florida for the next two weeks. Next year Easter will fall on April 5. Pretty fickle if you ask me.

Bad timing for setting a time to meet Face to Face or maybe just yes, you do want come in and sit. Get away from the muddy driveway, the yard detritus that will need to be taken care of sooner or later, washing the windows to see, yep its mud season out there. Parking is easy because the population has migrated for a couple of weeks and the promised start to road work has been pushed back. So yeah it could be a good thing.

This is my convoluted thinking for April. 

Arnie - February 18
I have sittings starting Tuesday next week for Face to Face.
Call, email or stop in Tuesday, Thursday or Friday and pick a time. Sit for a couple of hours and you will be part of the project. You will get a full size reproduction of the portrait and bragging rights that you participated in Face to Face.

Hillary _ February 24