Sunday 8 February 2009
OLIVER CROMWELL? WHAT'S HE GOT TO DO WITH IT? (PORTRAITS PART 1)
When Oliver Cromwell was about to have his portrait painted, he told the artist:
“Mr Lely, I desire you would use all your skill to paint your picture truly like me, and not flatter me at all; but remark all these roughness, pimples, warts, and everything as you see me. Otherwise, I will never pay a farthing for it.”
Here’s the point:
I love doing a portrait exercise with the kids who come to La Petite Galerie. I sit them down opposite me and take them through the process step by step. When we come to my forehead, I ask them to put in the wrinkles. This always embarrasses them. They’ve been taught that wrinkles are bad news. Their mothers probably spend fortunes on anti-wrinkle products. I have to explain to them that wrinkles give the face it’s character. They are the lines that cartoonists use so effectively to create a likeness.
Once they’re relaxed about emphasizing my wrinkles, crows feet, the bags under my eyes and my flabby cheeks, they invariably come up with a credible likeness.
In the above paintings, you can see that even I had hair once - Self Portrait 1978.
The other paintings are a portrait of Lynne - called "Are You Ready Yet, Raymond?", which I did in 2008 - and a portrait I did of a Blind Man in Australia in 1992.
For details on the more practical aspects of portrait painting, please see Portraits 2.
Posted by Ray Johnstone at 22:05