New portrait series

Not sure where I’m going with this. They’re much different from what I normally do, and I could use some serious critique if anyone is game.

The rest are here:
http://www.joannabarnum.com/gallery/experimental

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3 thoughts on “New portrait series

  1. oh- these are beautiful! Damn I wish you were you here, I would commission some of these of me! I especially like 7,9 and the one of Mike with Oxalis plant. Although those three are the least prominent in something that all the others have- a really strong facial and/or torso foreshortening, looking at the subject from a very close and intimate angle. I like the 3 I mentioned for various other reasons- the really powerful draughtsmanship on 7, the way the darkness pools below Mike’s face on the pillow in 9 as if his sleeping consciousness is sinking into it, the graphic stylishness of the plant one. The main thing about this group, though, is the foreshortening. It looks fantastic and you and I know how fucking hard that it to pull off. It puts you in the subject’s space, so there’s that immediacy and connection, and having several views on one page gives it the sequential art quality of movement through time- a group of moments gathered together, telling you about the subject.
    Also I love how these show your spacial relationship to Mike- ie bitty to big!- like your wedding pics which BTW so gorgeous.
    Did I mention I love these portraits? You are so talented. I saw your post about the dry summer and believe me I had one too, if not for my great illustation client I would have been fucked. But things will pick as the holidays come in- portraiture is always seasonal.
    The thing that these drawings make me think of is a book I have called “Last Drawings of Christopher Isherwood”, http://www.americanartists.org/Staff/bachardy/bachardy_last_drawings.htm
    which Don Bachardy made as his partner of many years was dying. They are crackerjack draughtsmanship in the service of grief and intimacy, really shattering.

    • (Oops, wrong account before!)
      Thanks so much for taking the time to respond, I really appreciate it.
      The “Oxalis” one actually isn’t part of the series (just happens to fit into the “experimental” folder and is the only other piece in there right now)…it’s a three year old sketchbook drawing that I just rediscovered when going through some things. I remember hating it at the time. I love it now…weird how that happens, usually it’s the other way around.
      I used to draw and paint from life all the time in school, and I’ve been realizing more and more lately that I need to go back to it, even if I can’t for all of my work. I’ve been seriously reevaluating everything. If I get one of the residencies I’ve applied for, I’m going to spend the time overhauling my illustrative technique, because I feel like I’ve outgrown a lot of what I’ve done, even though it’s not “bad” work. I guess it’s all a constant process, but this feels very traumatic.
      This series was originally supposed to be for the Smithsonian’s portrait competition, but I didn’t resolve it in time. For about a month, I did a drawing of Mike every day, and I really liked the series, but I could only submit “one” piece and I was worried that even though I saw the drawings as one piece conceptually, they wouldn’t consider it that way. So I collaged them all onto a huge canvas and painted into them, but absolutely hated it…it looked like high school abstract art to me. I finally sliced it back apart a few days ago into the “moments” that I liked best.
      Oh, and I really like that link…I’ll have to see if I can find the book at MICA’s library or something.

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