Monday, 17 February 2020

Portrait painting as a quest

Portrait painting as a quest

It was such a pleasure to portray my Mexican/Dutch daughter-in-law in watercolour and in so doing to share the joy of her expected baby. You will surely guess from her beaming expression that she wants us to know that something miraculous is going to happen. This mother-to-be is a warm colourful personality, sitting proud yet relaxing in the reds, gold and greens of her sunny culture. 

I've come to realise that painting a portrait is a timeless reflection on the origins and the prospects of your subject. Every choice of expression or colour, every brushstroke comments on and contributes to their personal history. That's quite a responsibility and a privilege. Each portrait is a quest. Where are you from? Who are you? Who do you want to be? There's no easy method, but somehow you have to zero in to something much deeper than a snapshot, much more than just a superficial "likeness". 

In my old age, I've become proudly aware of the multicultural ancestry of my grandchildren: British, American, Dutch, Mexican and very probably with Celtic origins. I wonder what my portraits will reveal to my great-grandchildren about themselves - and also about me.

As I thought lovingly of this little growing grandchild-to-be I intuitively painted the background freely with a large full brush and watched the puddles of watercolour slowly dry. Then to my amazement they turned into a little smiling face, sleeping happily just above mother's head. It was quite emotional. Thank you, my dear. What a privilege to meet you. 
Here's the link to some of my many Portraits. And the link to my portraits of great musicians in action.  

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Twenty twenty calligraphy

Calligraphy as 

An artist's every brushstroke exposes his inner self to all. It's usually an art-historian who will tell the artist what he was trying to say, even though his comments may come too late. So it's refreshing when still alive and well to read an analysis of your imagery by a well-informed observer. The perceptive and esteemed Amsterdam psychologist and coach Dr. Aggie Kemper knows my work well and has been a friend in need over many years. Below are her kind comments on my New Year's card. I had just painted it spontaneously, enjoying the calligraphic opportunity, without any profound intentions (except perhaps to avoid the political bias toward red or blue and to bring them together as purple).

"Your New Year's card is something of a self-portrait, albeit an abstract one. Although it depicts 2020, one can see much than that: joy, energy, movement, all sorts of emotions. The first number two is self-assured and wants to get moving.  The first zero is open - to many possibilities. The second two seems to be taking cover behind the two zeros. Is this really 2020? And the second zero is flamboyant, also open, so as to leave behind it what is no longer relevant. The exclamation mark expresses your life that has left us many beautiful marks". (Freely translated from the Dutch).

On reflection, I notice that even though the word Peace is slightly obscured by a cloud of watercolour, happiness is emerging into the light. Was this lively painting (25 x 19 cm) a direct transposition of my feelings that day? You may not believe this, but to be honest, I was quite depressed about the world of 2019. I had to haul this painting out of some deep inner place.  But once in the swing, I do remember feeling: let's float freely, let's go for it and let's have some fun too!