When I was a child, my mother told me 'it's just as important to know what you can't do, as well as what you can." I'm sure she meant this to be a comfort for I had a good deal to be modest about. Lessons in tennis,swimming, sailing, ice skating, skiing, dance, flute, life drawing, sculpture, golf, you name it, I took it. None of it stuck. Mom professed admiration for my attempts until one day she took another tack.
I have been painting now for about 15 years. The human figure still eludes me. I've tried, I've really tried. The last figure class I took was 6 years ago, though even then I hedged my bets. The class was doing figure, and with Danni Dawson's permission, I was off in the corner painting still lifes. Homework involved portraits. I did as best I could.
Last week I stepped willingly outside my comfort zone. I took a three day portrait workshop with Dan Thompson of the Art Students League of New York. Dan was terrific. The first day was grisaille (laying in the portrait with raw umber and white). The next day was color massing. But discouraged by how little my grisaille looked like the model, I started from scratch on a new canvas. I was pleased with the result (bottom left). Day three, the class refined the features. As I had no color masses to refine, I quickly added color (last photo).
If only I had stopped there, Instead, I spent 4 hours hamfistedly 'refining' the masses. If you think I'm going to show you the results, you're nuts.