While I like to know a bit about the model’s personalities, I mostly like to learn who they are by observing them. You can tell an amazing amount about a person just by watching. I try to be as present and perceptive as possible so I can sense their mood and capture it without exchanging words. In a way, my painting process goes back to the philosophy that we communicate so much simply through existing. From our facial expressions to our body language, human beings can say so much without uttering a word. It is fascinating. Hopefully, it makes me a better person in real life.
As someone who practices meditation regularly, I am constantly putting myself up to the challenge of present in the studio. Sometimes with the busyness of everyday life it can be hard to settle in and focus. However, when I do the energy exchange between the model and myself is just as fascinating as the artistic obstacles I have to overcome. Back and forth, we experience one another’s emotions. I see it as a being mindful in the most collaborative, communal way; versus the solitary version of mindfulness that we are often taught in Western society. Capturing the subject’s vivid emotional landscape is just as important as their figure. Yet it has taken practice.
For this very reason, I tend to gravitate towards models with a lot of gusto. This woman certainly had confidence. While I don’t know where it came from, I was intrigued by her aplomb. Upon noticing how muscular she was, I became determined to capture it to show her internal strength. She had a certain athleticism which I really wanted to come through as a power source.
Aside from the wonderful shape of her figure, the model’s skin was a joy to paint. I am a painter that has such a hard-wired affinity for color that I often look at my color wheel just for fun. Trying out new combinations is such a joy. Therefore, darker skin is wonderful to paint because there is a wide range of values. This naturally gives the composition more depth and drama which is exciting. However, the goal is never to recreate the color exactly. Rather, I enjoy emulating it using my own interpretation. That experimentation is where the childlike fun is. True artistic freedom is being able to infuse someone’s complexion with purple just because you feel like it.