Let the Magic Begin! And begin, it did – all artists faces turned forward, their eyes focused on the model and their canvases. Some blocked in the composition with pencil, another with charcoal etchings on a sketch pad trying to figure out proportions and placement of the figure in the whole scheme of things. Others went right to work blocking it in with their oil paints.
As a bystander, seeing a portrait painting come alive is fascinating and what I call high quality entertainment. There is so much to observe – the differences in how each artist lays down the background, and the color palette used. One artist chose to paint the portrait in a medium other than oils. He used pastels; another artist made a monochromatic sketch. Six different artists looking at the same subject interpreted what they saw differently – style varied among them. And then there were the brushes and how each artist handled them and applied paint depending on the spot they were working on. Sometimes by long strokes others with quick dabs here and there. Of course, painting a portrait in one session means layering wet-on-wet.
As the heat began to build, the shawl Dani Kurta wore was shed. However, at that point all artists had sketched it into their composition. And one other unexpected hitch occurred. The battery in the lighting appliance ran out of charge. Thus, part way through, the light changed, just like the light on a tree in the distance the model focused on shifted throughout the morning. By the way, Dani Kurta is also a photographer‘s model so she used her time wisely as she posed being very observant and learning more about how light change affects what we are seeing and why a photographer might capture her image through the lens of the camera in certain light.
I conversed with artist Collin Cesna during one of the breaks, and he said, “I bet at first you thought what is this hot mess, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” I said, “I did!” But I would never have told him that if he hadn’t asked first. But at some point during the session each one of the “hot messes” began to come together. How the artists brought each blank canvas to the point they did in just three hours is beyond me. But, it is all in the magic of what an experienced artist can do.
images Below: Artist Hal Long (left) and Scott McClelland (right)
Lastly, I would like to say Thank you with gratitude to Pamela Wilde and all the other artists for allowing me to join in, witness and write about a very fulfilling morning. Thank you also to the host Liriodendron Mansion and the Sponsor Maryland Society of Portrait Painters. The extraordinary historic setting certainly added to the fulllness of the experience.