In this painting - one of my favorite figure studies I've ever painted at Wednesday night class - I'm capturing Angela pretty well. One of my fellow painters came by and said, "yeah, that really looks like her." I agreed. The mouth, hair, and right ear are well captured. (Here too is another portrait with good use of negative space, I will humbly say, although I think my blue / orange combination is probably getting a little overused on Wednesday nights.)
Capturing. I confess that part of my art-lust is indeed imperialistic. I see a model and I do want to "own" a piece of her, a view of her, a part of her in my painting. I'm not sure that I will ever feel fully at ease with this reality.
One answer to the imperialism of all painting is to make it a practice to understand fully that the real subject of any painting is myself. In creating a pose that moves me, the model is showing me an aspect of me. Jung offers the idea of the anima, the feminine image of the soul that appears to a man in various ways, often as a beautiful maiden. The mistake for any artist or male-gazer is to believe that the beauty that he sees is really "out there" rather than always already in here. The actual young woman is just herself, another human being with her own longings, life, crap, issues, stuff to deal with, etc. So what I am "capturing" in a well done portrait of a lovely young woman like Angela is a piece of myself, gotten at, miraculously, through the gift of getting to see some of her her-ness. I think there's a mystery at the core of this dynamic that it would be a mistake to try to untangle completely.
I know that I have to live up to my core responsibilities to models, which primarily are to pay them well for the difficult, professional labor they do and also to strive as best as I can to paint well. But there's more: perhaps what we artists most owe the models we try to capture is simple respect and gratitude. That and simple human interaction. We should be friends and collaborators together, laughing and appreciating one another as full human beings during and between poses.
Thanks, Angela. And thanks to all the modeling professionals in the world who consent to a little capturing.