It's been a summer of painting portraits, more or less. I don't know how to classify paintings that have some figurative element, like this one, which I know I've already posted:
Is this a figure or a portrait? I can never tell. For me the subject here is beauty. It's of a new model who--well. Back I go to one of my old questions. What do we mean by beauty anyway? I know from painting many subjects and many people that beauty is infinite--that there is no shortage of beauty in this world, that everything--everything--is beautiful.
There is just nothing, nothing, nothing in this world like unto the beauty of young woman in bloom. Sigh.
Here's another case in point, in terms of the subject of a beautiful young woman. Here something more is going on than the simple effort to capture that beauty, however. The subject is a friend of mine, someone I have known and worked with, admired and learned from, a former graduate student who has taught me a great deal about many subjects: Renaissance literature, feminism, teaching, writing. And she is herself a wonderful artist.
When my friend saw her portrait, she gave me the compliment of noting that it was a good rendering--"it looks like me!"--but also added the comment "I am so fucking suspicious." My friend is someone who walks through life bearing considerable--what's the word? Edge. The painting is a reasonably faithful rendering of a photo I took in a modeling session, and it's true that she felt her way into the session (a session in which she offered not full but considerably nudity) tentatively, in a guarded way. That is the way my friend feels her way through life, actually, so I do agree with her statement. But only in retrospect. When I chose the image to paint, I saw only the stunning beauty of her eyes and hair, the glow of her skin. As I told her, the photo made my painting hand itch.
If the painting indeed offers a faithful rendering of my friend's "edge," then for me that edge has become part of her beauty. And I told her that.
And then here's my son, from a photo taken on Pismo Beach earlier this summer, when we traveled in that direction to celebrate the graduation of my nephew from UCSB. I have nothing to say about this piece apart from the fact that it was a pure labor of love. The painting is now hanging in our hallway.