I received a local Arts council grant this year to undertake a “free Portraits” project. (funds made possible by the Decentralization Program of the New York State Council on the arts) My idea was to invite the general public to submit throw away objects to me with a photo of someone whose portrait they want painted on the object. I made a brochure about the project that I distributed throughout the summer, largely through “Commission boxes” installed in the public library and at the Agroforestry Center.
I was excited to see when I got back from my summer travels that I had several submissions in the “Commission Box” in the Catskill Library. I am finding that there are twists and turns to working with the public that of course I did not anticipate. Several people submitted objects, but no photo. Most of the submissions came with phone numbers and no email, which is my chosen way to communicate. So today I created a form letter that I will send out by regular mail to let all the participants know that the painting of the portraits is underway…..
I completed the first portrait largely in the Greene County Council on the Arts gallery where the project was installed as part of the Whale Oil Show in July. I set up my easel and painted right in the window of the gallery at set times twice a week. I completed the first portrait, which is pictured here….Rob aiming a gun painted on top of an exploded can of spray insulation! This was a creative submission on his part, though it may fall short as an actual “portrait” as his face is not that easy to make out. He came to my studio during the local studio tour last week and did not realize that he would get to keep the portrait. he had the idea that I should sell it as part of my body of work!
I am nearing completion on the second portrait which consists of a very cute baby girl painted on a wooden serving tray. This has been a challenging painting assignment as the baby’s face is proportionally very different from an adults and I have had to keep increasing the height of that immense forehead and the distance between the eyes, etc. It still is not enough of a likeness for me so I will continue working on it this Sunday….
More to come! For now, I must address the form letters and then correspond with a few “submitters” by email so that they all know I am working on it!