Monday, 12 August 2013

Portrait


You will have to forgive this badly cropped phone photo, but this painting by one of H.I.'s Summer School students really caught my eye when I was helping to clear up last week.

Only one of her students had ever been a professional teacher of art, and it was not this one. The first thing that struck me was that it is a very good likeness of the sitter - an extremely good likeness of a very distinctive face. Then as you look, the rest seems to harmoniously align itself in your eyes, or it would do if I had not cropped it so badly. Those hands were resolved the day after I took this picture, and - to my mind - the painter (a middle-aged woman) went home with the most visually successful painting of the group.

That is not to say that the whole, one-week exercise was a competition, it's just that when you see a challenge met like this and problems resolved by an amateur in such a pleasing way, it cannot help but stand out.

She thought that it was simply a lucky strike, but - like that hole-in-one - it was just the culmination of a lot of concentration and effort, which is what all good art is about to my mind.

H.I. summed it up nicely when she said that it reminded her of those early American, naive portraits from the turn of the 19th century.  I agree, now that she has pointed it out.

The sitter is off to study sculpture at a London college this September. I wonder if her teachers will be asking complete beginners to run before they can walk by encouraging 'conceptual' art, as they did at my college over 40 years ago.

13 comments:

  1. It has a sadness which is rather moving

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes - it's also a bit like those Al Fayum tomb portraits from the late Egyptian/Roman dynasty.

      Delete
  2. It is oil on ordinary, brown wrapping paper, btw.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It also has an early Picasso look about it. The face is too well seen for an American Primitive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you about the Picasso look, but I think that many of the American paintings were very good portraits too - not that I can pull any examples off the net right now, and not that I could ever have known any of the sitters.

      Delete
  4. It may have been a lucky strike. You get those days ...
    but my, what a powerful, lovely painting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's better in real life, but you get the picture.

      Delete
  5. I agree with H.I that it is reminiscent of those naive American portraits and a wonderful piece from a talented lady...... I did think that the hands could have been a little more in perspective but then again, Michelangelo and his contemporaries had their perspective a little off .....David's hands and head are far too big !!!! ...... but,if I remember fron school, was that because they were meant to be placed high up and were intended to be larger ?
    I think that Mise should buy the painting .... it would look great in her house !! XXXX

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

      Delete
  6. Charming - i agree about the naive quality too - and the colours ae so saturated - I love it and would hang it on my wall any day Tom.

    ReplyDelete
  7. To each their own. I personally would not hang it in my home however, I know plenty of people who would.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, wrong again. It is not a matter of taste as in - 'to each their own'. I know plenty of people who would hang a Jack Vetriano print on their wall, but Jack Vetriano is definitely not a matter of taste either.

      Delete