If you are at all interested in painting people, you probably will understand what I’m about to write.
Walking into a party last August, I was by chance reintroduced to this gentleman, Dr. Paul Brennan and his wife Dorothy. I will admit, and you’ll likely understand, that upon first seeing Paul again from across the room, the painter-part of me immediately took to conniving and scheming about asking this fellow to sit for a portrait of some sort. How embarrassingly crass of me. I fought it successfully for a bit , but after getting reacquainted over a friendly conversation with the two of them, I took the plunge and inquired (with understandably high hopes) as to whether he would be interested in sitting for my portrait class. Thankfully he was willing and available, and in November we had the happy privilege of working with him for five three-hour sessions at the Honolulu Museum School of Art.
Dr. Brennan Oil on stretched linen, 14 x 11″
Though I worked on this while teaching, which means rather sporadically, it was still a pleasure to tackle this distinguished, noble character. With his vast interests and wealth of life experiences, Paul kept all of us entertained as we chipped away at our studies.
Simply painting a head adequately is challenge enough, and the skills in painting and problem -solving are acquired slowly and require honing. My own emphasis in this particular piece, which is only 14 x 11″, was to try to get at the truth of the subject’s color and to state the color notes as succinctly as I could, using the brush and knife as directly and expressively as possible, working towards surface interest and texture as well as light, shade, and color. I’ve been interested in some of the heads painted by artists such as George Clausen, where the verity of the likeness is equal with the knowledge that you ‘re looking at pieces of paint. I find that to be a very rich experience.
Such little assignments within the task of painting the head keep me and the students on our toes and looking ahead to the next sitting.