Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Pose and Expression

a darling little two year old boy named Ryan came to my studio today to be photographed for a pencil drawing. i thought it might be of interest to show these photos since in some ways many parents may be surprised that this is the type photo that i like to work from.
for one thing i don't generally go for the big smiles. i have several reasons for this.. #1 i tend to be more interested in focusing on the expression in the eyes rather than the mouth when doing a portrait. when the subject has a big smile, the eyes become less important. #2 i also tend to associate large smiles with photographs ("say cheese!" :-). #3 portraits with big smiles are less like the traditional portrait paintings that i really admire. ideally i'd like to be able to do all my portraits from life, few portraits done from life will have the subject smiling! now in spite of having given these reasons for not being partial to big smiles in painted or drawn portrait work, there are always the exceptions. there are some children who are just so smiley that it is truly the best way to paint them.
another reason people might be surprised by my choice of photo reference is the fact that often the subject is looking away from the viewer. i do this more often with my less formal portraits and drawings. just often feels more natural to me, less posed.
parents will sometimes say, "but he looks so serious!". it's usually a simple matter to brighten the expression just a bit by slightly turning up the corners of the mouth or raising the brows. also if we like a particular photo where the child is looking away, but the parent prefers to have the child looking at the viewer, it usually is no problem for me to move the direction of the child's gaze.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Hi Christy -- My name is Laura Parrish. I'm a portrait artist in Glen Allen. I can't remember how I found your blog, but I was reading along, admiring your work and -- oh! -- she's from Richmond! Oh! She's married to Kerry Talbot! I worked in the advertising art department at the newspaper years ago. I don't think I ever met your husband.

Anyway, sorry this is so long. I just wanted to say I totally agree with what you write about children smiling in a portrait. You word it really well, too. :)

Have you seen this Sargent catalog? I thought I might order it to show my clients when I'm explaining about wide smiles and photographs versus traditional portraiture.

Anyway -- your work is lovely! Hope to cross paths sometime.