Portrait number ten took place on the 15th floor of a condominium in the middle of a weather system that spanned several days. The wind was so strong it lifted my heavy easel!
I had not done a closeup since the first portrait for this series, to I decided to paint the sitter up close. At times during this series, I have wondered if this intense practice is helping me get better, or if I am too tired to take advantage of any learning. Most of the time I feel I am in the middle of those two extremes.
For someone like me, the benefit of working in this way is that I’ve had to practice a lot of letting go. Ordinarily I would have wanted to take my time to think, but I have come to terms with the fact that it’s not possible to give careful thought to everything when you are painting a person in four hours. Instead of carefully revising, I’ve had to be strategic and take care of the most urgent problems. Most of my time is spent looking at canvasses that I’ve hung in my aunt’s tiny kitchen, hoping to catch what isn’t working before it’s too late. This series is simultaneously a workshop and a bootcamp for me, a way to test wether I can do that kind of letting go. Otherwise, I could spend the rest of my life rehearsing until I feel I am technically good enough to go out there and paint people.
I have also let go of the need to post a finished painting, and that is because some of these paintings need more thinking and I will not be able to do that until I get back to Richmond. So I have done what I can and posted the videos because I know the sitters want them. The one below is an example.