In my last call for commissions, I made a point of offering to add humans to the mix. I got some wonderful reference photos from several of you! This is fairly new territory for me, at least in commissions, but I’m very excited (and anxious, and fascinated) to be here.
What I’m passionately interested in is how we humans relate to non-humans.
|A guy and his cat
(I took this pic.
You can tell by how badly done it is)
Let’s face it, it’s complex.
|A little girl and the family collie
(another of my lousy photos)
The relationships vary between any given person, and any other given animal, and at different times of our lives. There was a time when we were little where maybe it was hard to distinguish between our stuffed toys and real live critters, where the toys could be imbued with a magical kind of life, and the live animals could be considered to be no more than toys. Friendships, enmities and phobias form up, shaping the way we see the others in our world. Many of us have wept, time and again, over the plight of animals we have never met, and also vowed to kick, hit or pepper-spray any dog that threatened to attack one of our own. We’ve signed petitions, we’ve argued on various social media, we’ve volunteered, we’ve walked the talk, all with such strong emotions we have for these non-human animals. Some of us will go to various kinds of war with our fellow humans over them. Some will dump buckets of unwanted babies on the side of the road, drive off and never miss an hour’s sleep over it. That’s a pretty wide range.
|A popular guy seen at a parade|
I love all the reflected reds in the photo, and that will be a major theme. I’m not so keen on the busy blotch of color in the lower left. I’m going to do some fiddling.
As usual, I am terrified. It’s almost reassuring that I’m no more afraid to do this larger portrait with two subjects – one a human – than I am when I do my small one-pet-face portraits. It’s an old, familiar fear, and I know the only way through it is to sink into the magic zone of paint, light, shadow, color, texture, wet and dry that becomes so compelling once I’ve crossed the threshold.
My scanner isn’t big enough to scan the whole painting at once, so I’ll be taking photos with whatever comes to hand. In this case, my tablet! Not so great. But, here’s a close up of Dad’s face.
|Dad – work in progress
© Xan Blackburn 2012
Very watercolory, at this stage, as usual. The warm tones you see are from the pastel bleeding into the pale washes of Payne’s gray. The intense highlight on one side of his face creates the wonderful intense shadow at its border. Then his face picks up gradually more reflected light, revealing his features with intimate glowing tones. This is really going to be fun.
So, I’ll get on with it, shall I?