So often in real life, people’s moods can be somewhat discursive. More than you would think, I can tell someone is feeling one emotion and masking it with another. It is refreshing to meet a person who has nothing to conceal. In fact, as an artist it is inspiring because you can get straight to work.
There is a lot of intensity to this subject’s gaze. She is alert in an almost animal-like way, as though she is preparing for something to happen. I like that anticipation. It adds a theatrical element to a traditional portrait. The energy isn’t stagnant but rather on the verge of something.
In contrast with the decisiveness of the subject’s mood, the color palate is neutral. This was a period where I was experimenting with earth tones. However as a lover of color, I couldn’t help myself and throw in a few purples and blues. This is probably my favorite in the neutral series.
I like to paint difficult poses because it takes a lot of practice and skill to do this. It’s what I have worked towards my entire painting career. This model was a dancer so she could twist her body in unusual ways. On top of that, she could hold her pose for long periods of time which gives the painting a great level of expressiveness. I love working with dancers for their agility which provides so much to pull from.
In painting people for many years, I have come to a few theories: a twist of the hips and/or neck gives someone a completely different orientation. Something about the look over a shoulder, as in this painting, really strikes me. It dramatically changes the composition and gives her pose more character. The composition becomes so much more expressive when someone isn’t in a symmetrical orientation. Even a drop of the chin practically adds a whole story. Someone goes from complacent to contemplative in a split second. It’s kind of amazing…
In this woman’s case she is highly alert which makes you wonder what or whom she is waiting for. That mystery is riveting and rare to find.