I have been painting the fighters’ portraits for awhile, but this is my first attempt at a profile portrait. I was afraid that without seeing both eyes, the faces would be less compelling, but I am not sure that is the case. In fact, I moved to the profile view because I feared the images were becoming too sentimental. Here is San Francisco area fighter A885, in profile.
Today I have been working on this portrait of Ann Edwards, an ex-slave. The image was taken from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs online catalog. They have a treasure trove of photographs of ex-slaves from the Works Progress Administration. I have also pretty much completed the portrait of John Powell.
This painting is of a man who looks like anyone I may come across in the course of a day. I wish it were possible to know the physiognomy of evil, but despite that pseudoscience’s best efforts, no such characteristics have been defined with any accuracy. This portrait is from a photograph I came across while searching the stacks at my local public library. The book it was found in is Hooded Americanism; the first century of the Ku Klux Klan, 1865-1965 by David Mark Chalmers, 1st edition, published by Doubleday in 1965. One can read more about Hiram Wesley Evans at the Texas State Historical Association site.
When searching Google for the term ‘mug shot’, I found an article about an online exhibition at the New Zealand Police Museum of criminals from the past. The photographs from their Rogue’s Gallery are truly amazing, and I will be consulting them for some time. I printed out a bunch of images, and this is the first I have begun to paint.
I was able to paint during the 7 days without power. I have been reading two books about Cézanne. The biography by Alex Danchev is great, and the other book, Interpreting Cézanne by Paul Smith has me thinking a great deal about the artist’s use of patches of color, which I have been exploring in my portraits. I am using my palette knife almost exclusively now as well.