I suppose I am naturally drawn to this TV programme because I've always wanted to be a BETTER portrait painter than I am.
I have only seen two episodes, but I gather that each week the programme highlights about 9 painters who are given a certain amount of time to paint a celebrity of some sort. The format gives each group of three painters one of three sitters to work on.
There is no doubt that many of the painters really know their job, and produce superb work.
Others, not unlike this chap above, CHEAT. They take photos and ignore the sitter. Some square-up their photos on paper and work from that. This is not in the spirit of portrait painting, and would normally come under the heading of 'illustration'.
I, myself, know fellow painters who work from photos, use lightboxes, and employ all sorts of devices to make their work look better. There is nothing wrong with this; it is 'picture making'.
Of course any buyer of a painting is buying an object, and it hardly matters how it was created, but with portrait painting I, personally, would prefer that it was done with skill rather than by the use of some gadget.
Admiring the skill of a painter is half the fun, knowing that something is simply a copy of a photo takes away that fun; and maybe the original photo was better anyway.
I remember well judging an Art Club competition myself, where half the entries were paintings of D Spencer, some pop star, or a TV celeb; all painted from photos (some worse than others). I gave the prize to an elderly farmer who'd painted the view from his farmhouse on the back of an old door.
He'd used whatever old paint pot colours (mostly green) that he'd found in his shed, and was not a particularly adept painter. However, the painting was magnificent and must have taken him ages to paint. It was a huge landscape showing all his divided fields, complete with Sheep and trees. I wasn't popular with those who'd meticulously copied photos.
It sounds like his landscape was a labour of love.ReplyDelete
Yes, and he painted it simply as a 'record' of how it was. He was a nice man.Delete
An interesting take on what art is when it comes to portraiture. It's surprising that you are able to access Sky channels. Do you pay Sky subscription fees?ReplyDelete
I think my oldest subscribed. It's just about to lapse.Delete
Sky Arts is free to all. You do not have to be a Sky subscriber.Delete
Not sure of what you speak. A portrait painter's art is not to capture a "likeness". The painter's art is to capture the soul, the essence of the person they portrait. By which means they arrive at this is as varied as both the painter and his subject.ReplyDelete
Let's not forget all those portrait painters (including the truly big names) who lied, yes, lied, in their portraiture by way of flattering their commissioners, their wealthy patrons who kept them in canvas, bread and cheap wine.
As to your farmer. Well, yes. Even cave men carved into stone what they saw at their front door. A bison.
re Your first para: if you've been commissioned to paint a portrait, the first thing the client wants is for it to look like the sitter; not his/her 'soul'.Delete
We often heard how King Henry VIII would tell his court artist to start all over again if that artist made the King look too foppish and handsome.Delete
Henry always wanted his painted image to look big, mean, dominant and bullish. In other words he wanted a true un-exaggerated portrait.
Personally I admire portraits that are not a photographic likeness (you can use cameras for that) but ones that have something unique, a looseness and fluidity of style but still capture something of the subject. Like you, it annoys me on that programme when the artists have the person sitting in front of them but they prefer to use their computer screen.ReplyDelete
Funnily, I've just watched another episode, and they were all doing it. They even had the photo squared-up on their iPads.Delete
Does painting from a photograph signal a less skilled painter?What is the impact on the quality and value of the painting? As a buyer, how do you tell if a painting was painted from a photograph?ReplyDelete
Generally, if a portrait is painted from a photo it lacks 'presence'. It will look static and feel unlifelike.Delete
We have been watching landscape artist of the year (reruns on American Public Television.) I am surprised by artists who get lost of the tide comes in, or a boat moves away, that they can't figure out how to pain what they are not seeing in front of them. I paint the image in my brain (not very well, but I enjoy it.)ReplyDelete
I've only seen one episode of the landscape version. The painters weren't very good at all.Delete
Please note for you and your readers, Sky Arts is free to all and you do not have to subscribe to Sky to view it. It has been free for over 2 years and availableto allcomers.ReplyDelete
Can I add to that Rachel. It's on Freeview Chanel 11. Wonderful channel.Delete
Dear Sir, You are a one and only...to be admired.ReplyDelete
I do enjoy your forthrightness.
As someone with absolutely no artistic ability or pretensions to having any, can I say that it is still possible to enjoy copying as a form of enjoyment in itself.ReplyDelete
I totally agree, but don't go on a portrait painting competition and copy a photo, it's not in the right spirit.Delete
Did they eliminate contestants that use photo over the live model?ReplyDelete
Painting from a photo is copying the photo, with a dash of artistic license. I would not call it a good portrait, even if it is.
On the other hand, I've seen portraits by well established portrait artists, using the live person, that are not good, capture nothing of the person's spirit. Yet, the majority opinions gush over how great the portrait is.
It does seem to be the proper 'painters' who win through, but I haven't seen enough of the show to confirm that it's always so.Delete
I've seen old episodes of this show and love the variety of styles of the paintings. Not sure i always agree with the judges choices.ReplyDelete