Portraits

Several customers or potential customers have asked if I do portraits.  I’ve always politely declined, portraits having never been my strong suit.  I used to do them, though only in pencil and I was inconsistent at best.  Sometimes they were pretty good likenesses of the subject, sometimes they looked more like rejects from the Frankenstein lab.  I’ve been wanting to get back into it again, but for one reason or another, mostly an alloy of fear, laziness and procrastination, I’ve just not gotten around to it.

A rather curious series of events changed all that a few weeks ago.  I’m not free to go into details but suffice it to say that I was inclined to draw a portrait and I was quite pleasantly surprised and pleased at the result.  Unfortunately, I’m not able to share the portrait with you either.

Portraits are considered by many to be one of the most difficult types of art to make.  Mainly because we humans are programed to not just recognize a face to be that of a human as we can, say, a cheetah or lion, but we can recognize a specific human amongst the billions that inhabit this twirling rock.  Given that all or nearly all adult human faces have nearly identical proportions; i.e. the distance of about one eye between the eyes, the width of the nostrils is equal to the distance between the inner corners of the eyes, the width of the mouth is equal to the distance between the pupils, etc.  With these constraints, the actual difference between two individuals’ faces can be vanishingly small.  Furthermore, it is a human superpower to see a face and almost instantly and unconsciously analyze it for any inconsistencies or “wrongness”.  It’s a pretty significant accomplishment to render a drawing of a random human face that looks “right”, add to this that the portrait artist must render a likeness of a particular individual that also looks alive and maybe portrays some of traits that hints to the unique personality of the subject; well, it’s pretty awesome when it works.

The drawing that leads off this blog is not the portrait that I just finished.  This is a portrait I drew of my oldest step daughter back in 2003.  I’ve always considered it one of my best pieces, I am particularly proud of the bandana.  I post it now as a stand in for my most recent portrait.  The most recent is pretty good, especially for a first portrait in 18 years, this one however, is still the best.  I’m practicing still, and the next one I complete I will be able to post.  So, stay tuned.

As always, be safe and keep doing what you love.  Drop me a word or two anytime you feel it.  See y’all next week or the next week…or some week in the future.

–Bill

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