Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Under the Influence of Chuck Close?

The start of my new painting.
For the past two weeks I have been reading "Chuck Close: Life" by Christopher Finch, which was loaned to me by my artist friend, Lani Tanaka, who raved about the book. Now, normally I am a fiction reader, in fact, this may be my first biography I have ever read. But since Lani liked it so much (and I was out of books to read), I decided to read this book. I am glad I did. It's hard to believe that someone who was so sick as a child, had learning disabilities, and was paralyzed later as an adult could have the ambition and drive to have such a successful painting career like Chuck Close did. It really is inspiring. It makes me feel like I should be doing more career-wise, frankly, but I am trying to not compare myself with others and their success in order to gauge my own. How's that working out, you ask? Well, let's just say that I will be working hard in the next few months trying to get my career to the next level.

Besides feeling like I should be farther along in my career, Close's large portraits really inspired me to paint my portraits larger. I have done my share of portraits but these were usually done on a smaller scale, not larger that 16"x16" in fact. It felt weird to have a stranger's portrait be larger than life because of the unfamiliarity of the subject to the viewer (not that having a large portrait of someone you know doesn't seem weird when you think of it). At any rate, I would have never considered what I do as something that could work on a larger scale unless the person (or people) had their whole body in the composition. After reading about Chuck Close and seeing his work, I decided why not? Why not make my portraits larger?

So today I started one of two portraits and so far, I am very happy with what I have done. Unlike Close's portraits where the subject was looking directly at the viewer, much like a mug shot, my subjects are caught in candid moments with the eyes looking away (although they will be blocked out at a later date). There is something carefree about my subjects that make me feel happy when I am painting them. In just three hours I managed to complete most of the underpainting for my first 36"x36" portrait. That's how excited I was to paint these.

I am kind of excited to work with just heads for a few pieces and I was already planning on working on a 4 x 4 grid of them (12" x 12") for an upcoming show at ArtHaus Gallery. Now I will have some larger ones to go with them.

This panel is 36"x36".

In other news, check out Culture Seen for Lisa Sipe's interview with me. The website has some great interviews and other articles of interest revolving around art.

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