In defiance of my sitting watching television promotes brain fog ethos, I do make a point of watching two programmes. They are: The Wrong One Wins – People and The Wrong One Wins – Places. You may know them as Portrait Artist of the Year and Landscape Artist of the Year.
Why do the judges persist in choosing the oeuvre which least resembles the subject? Am I hopelessly out of date? Is it true that if we’ve got cameras for that there’s no point in having a painted depiction? Why do they keep talking about ‘mark making’ and do daubs qualify?
Then I have issue with all the artists who take several photographs and paint from their photographs. Especially those who put a grid on the photo and a corresponding grid on the canvas and just copy the squares. What’s clever about that? Isn’t it just paint by numbers?
Is it just me? Am I too old, thinking practised skill is a good and desirable achievement?
You can probably detect that I may have more questions than answers but I am not giving a critique from a point of total ignorance. Partial ignorance, possibly, I have not been to art critic school or been steeped in knowledge of what made the greats, great.
I do like things that look like something.
I believe that some modern art is a load of hokum. One or two very modern artists were freethinkers that brought something new to the party, the rest were just freeloaders, including some famous modern names, in my opinion.
What this opinion of how difficult it is or not is based on, is a few years at portraiture.
I was looking for more craft shops locally, searching with a search engine. Thus I discovered an art supplies shop in the next town that was running weekly classes with no tuition. What they did was hire a model to stay still while artists did their thing. There was life drawing, which was a couple of hours of unclad model in a variety of short poses and portraiture in which a clad model sat still for a couple of hours.
I am interested in anything that is likely to improve the original sculptures from which I model my dolls. So I went along to both for a while. I soon became disenchanted with life drawing; the poses were usually about ten or fifteen minutes long, at the most half an hour, so I never got the chance to finish a piece of work well. I did get familiar with proportions of the human body other than my own slightly stunted ones, and looking at a lot of joints was very helpful and culminated eventually in the articulated 24th scale dolls which I do now.
Portraiture took a lot longer to have an effect. As an artist, unlike some of the contestants in The Wrong One Wins, you are trying really hard to make the finished effort bear a really strong resemblance to the person seated for two hours, with a fifteen minute break, before you.
I had several breaks myself of months at a time for ill health of various sorts. A lengthy one towards the end of being a carer for my mother, and a similar break when classes were closed in the pandemic.
I believe I improved considerably when my cataracts were surgically corrected and I could actually see what I was looking at, which is almost cheating in my hitherto squinty life.
I have the proof because from the start I kept every effort categorised by date in 12 inch scrapbooks, so I could see myself improving. I have done this systematically with few things in my life, but it has advantages in that it doesn’t matter where you start, what counts is getting better. It’s one of them there journeys that are so popular currently.
And now it’s time to join the judges yourself. Here are my two most recent efforts, returning a fortnight ago after my time off for surgery last summer. These are the pictures from last week and the week before. Feel free to mutter about mark making and the artist’s honesty with the canvas, you can even bang on about the width of the brush strokes if you like.
Both portraits are watercolours, from those little boxes of watercolour pans of paint. I draw the subject first. The pictures are on A4 watercolour paper pads. Here they are – got your screwed-up judgey face on?
Here’s Christina and
There are no aids, just me looking at the person, drawing what I see and water colouring the result.
What do you think?
If you like looking at the work of a lot of artists in miniature, tickets for Autumn Miniatura are now on sale with considerable reductions from pay-at-the-door entry.
As always www.miniatura.co.uk