This work was done with a friend in mind who wanted me to draw her. At the time I was creating more surrealistic figurative and faces based on no one in particular and I stressed to her that I wasn’t really taking commissions because my head wasn’t into portraits. Still isn’t really, but I am using more photo references when doing studies.
I set out to make this work representational, but with a Modigliani type feel to it, and with her in mind, but I didn’t think she’d appreciate it, and I was right. She didn’t. But I think it captures her general impression when you get away from that -there is a camera pointing at me so I’m going to smile- look she has in every photo I saw when looking for a reference.
I’m trying to think back in history when any painting was approached with that “smile for the camera” type look we see in candids and portraiture today, usually if a smile was included it was to express a reflex emotion like laughter. Having to sit for such a long time I’d imagine lended itself to a more natural expression. I would approach my photography the same way when I was shooting models. I’d never go for that “look right here and smile” or “pageant” type shot. They look so unnatural and devoid of mood to me.