I have the privelidge of taking a three day portrait workshop with Judy Carducci this week. Watching her bring life to a portrait is amazing. Light and shadow, lost and found lines, warm and cool tones stroke by stroke create life and dimension where formerly there was just a sheet of paper. It better than watching a symphony or play, it is nothing short of remarkable. The structure of the workshop is simple, watch Judy do a demo from a model in the morning, and then paint (or draw) a portrait of that model in the afternoon.
I understand color, I can paint landscapes, so I should be able to translate that to the figure….right? I have had an overconfidence problem my whole life. When I was 8 years old, I watched Olympic diving on TV, and made big plans to awe everyone the next time I was in a pool. My thought process: my ability to do gymnastics + my ability to swim = Olympic diving. After smacking the water and driving it up my nose a couple of times, I was humbled. Perhaps my ability to swim and aptitude for acrobatics might make it easier for me to LEARN to dive, but it did not replace a lifetime of training and practice. And so, after watching magic take place on Judy’s paper all morning, I was reluctant to go to the easel myself, I knew about people who made things look easy.
Then, Judy said something that buoyed me forward, “it is better to fail miserably, than to have lost an opportunity by not trying, or produce a weak outcome because you were timid.” Fail miserably, well, that, I was confident I could master. So I set off…standing at my easel with a 19″x26″ piece of canson paper, and a stick of vine charcoal. I was going to capture a likeness through light and shadow and lost and found lines, or fail miserably trying. So I boldly attempted to capture the gesture, and then it was a process of erasing and correcting, over and over again. All you have to do is wipe vine charcoal off with a chamois and it gone, so it is a wonderful medium for landscape artists who are giving Olympic diving a try. After 3 hours of 30 min. posing sessions, and comments and suggestions from Judy’s skillful eye I captured Wesley: