Face It
Face It

Face It


If you can’t paint, don’t try selling us your paintings.  I get impatient with the profound smudge, the swashbuckle of off-the-shelf colors, the — oh, this is the worst — the emotionful portrait in which the face has met a calamity while the hair, the shoulders remain intelligible.  Either the features — note: we call them features — have been scraped or blurred or blotted, or the sitter has just met with an unfortunate airplane propeller.

Rembrandt’s great portraits?  How about he twists his biggest brush into wet paint over the eyes nose and mouth? Ah, but Rembrandt could paint. So why would he?

Here are examples of blotchy brushwork.  As in Rembrandt’s late portraits you don’t miss the emotional humanity on display.  For me this ability to capture elusive nuances of expression is among art’s highest achievements.  Whereas the Mona Lisa’s fun but she leaves me cold.


painting by Linda E Anderson
half torso of a man by Linda E Anderson


Tai-Shan-Schierenberg painting
male head by Tai-Shan-Schierenberg


When You Get There, by Mia Bergeron
When You Get There, by Mia Bergeron


Male Head by  Ho-Jun Lee
Male Head by Ho-Jun Lee


      1. Terry, a bit ill-put yesterday — you probably don’t see the ocean of artworks I’m awash in. There actually is a contingent of painters who paint faces which they then smear out or scribble over or (here the creativity comes in) douse with hot pudding. The effect is to depersonalize, dehumanize the subject. It worked for me at first but by now it’s limp with over-use.

        The face is perhaps the most challenging of subjects. Painting a halo of less-communicative elements — hair, neck, collar — and not the pith has begun to feel like the refuge of cowards. In contrast there are many true artists who play with the motif and make something more of it. A favorite of mine is the sculptor Yinka Shonibare . He’s got so much art flowing through him that his headless figures are saying something, not ducking the task.

        1. I pretty well got the gist of how you felt, and the elaboration is appreciated and understood. We are akin in that regard, you and I. Mayhap not about the art, per se, but the whole presentation of faux skill as real talent.

          One thing (amongst many) that I like about your posts is the opportunity for me to be exposed to some art and ideas that I wouldn’t normally be a part of otherwise! 🙂

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