Monday, January 30, 2012


Not quite finished....
I am planning to show a collection of my portrait paintings and drawings at the public library here in Joshua Tree next month, and I wanted to have a couple of new paintings in the show. For the first time EVER, I painted a portrait entirely from a photograph. Usually, I paint from a live sitting, and if I use a photo, it is only to finish the painting. It's always good to try new things. This is what I learned:

1.Working from a photograph is so much easier than working from life (why haven't I tried it sooner?)
2. I think I CAN paint believable tattoos now
3. it is easier to get a likeness when working from a  photograph
4. I don't ever want to paint a t-shirt with words on it ever again. (especially not upside down words.)
5. I find noses very challenging

The other part about the weekend's portrait painting that was a revelation was because of those tattoos and the t-shirt. I had finished everything else about the painting, and I was avoiding the logo on the shirt and those tattoos like the plague. I had even signed and photographed the painting. The painting sat overnight before I realized that the tattoos are part of this woman. Whether or not I successfully painted them, I had to try. If I wanted to capture who this woman really was, those tattoos were essential. It was very hard for me to pick up my brush again and tackle those tattoos. (and that t-shirt!) I was afraid that if I couldn't get the tattoos to look right, the whole painting would be ruined. That would also mean one less painting for the show. Oh, but deadlines can be a curse!
"Kate." Oil on canvas, 30 x 24 inches. ©Karine Swenson 2012
I have yet to hear what my lovely model thinks of this painting of herself, but I feel like I made some huge strides forward. Facing fear and overcoming it is so incredibly satisfying.


Marjorie said...

It was good to see the before and after images. The tattoos and tee shirt details made quite a difference. Congratulations on facing your fears and greatly improving the painting. I look forward to seeing it at the Joshua Tree library.

Anke Martin said...

Oh wow! This is beautiful!! Looking forward to see more portraits!
Smiles, Anke :)

Patty said...

Woo hoo and good for you! This painting is more complete with those tattoos, and you handled them masterfully. Congrats on facing an uncomfortable situation with confidence!

WL said...

the tattoos look great, especially the way they wrap around into the light. very convincing.