Thursday, February 16, 2006

We Choose Life! Won't You?

Click image for larger. Largest.

It's an old joke, but this portrait was returned because the background color doesn't match a couch. I'm not a snob, so I don't mind repainting the background; however, the painting has sat in my studio for the past eight months alongside many other painting projects which I really need to return to once I manage to finish a few cartoons. Chris happened to mentioned today that I should finish the painting something before these kids enter college, hence, the bright idea (since I have five cartoons in progress all going nowhere at once) to use it for today's toon. So, there it is.

Visitors to my older .com site, before I decided to redirect all traffic to this blog (easier to take care of one site than two) may remember the link to my portrait studio. I've drawn or painted some 2,000 portraits, many at my studio at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas during the 1990's, but not too many as of late, as the cartooning, which is relatively a new industry for me is absolutely consuming. The painting above was done quickly as a Christmas present; it isn't one of my best, but it has a few nice touches, mainly in my niece's hair and skin tone, which are probably the only parts of the painting close to being finished. Now that I have it back in my hands I'll give it a little more attention. You might be able to tell from this painting that I'm an aficionado of Mary Cassatt, as well as other impressionistic portrait and figure artists, such as Vuillard, Renoir, Degas, etc.

The interesting thing about paintings-the physical painting itself, is that contemplating the piece brings you back to where you were when you were working on it. A painting is memory amber, freezing the artist's thoughts and feelings at the moment of creation. I can still recall the songs playing on the radio when I was working on this piece, the weather, how cold the studio was, house chores I was doing around the project, specific abstract thoughts.

Most of my paintings and some of my cartoons are accomplished completely on prayer. That's because it's impossible for me to make these images; I don't have the talent or the patience. If I'm effective it's because God has taken whatever minor abilities I have and has made them so, usually because (and I don't know if this is fair or unfair) I throw it all back on Him, especially when I've worked myself into some sort of a jam, which is always.

To be truly successful, a painting or a cartoon only has to be effective for one person. If a portrait fulfills a need for someone who has lost a loved one, it's successful. If a cartoon expresses a deeply held belief for someone, so much so that they wish to show it on their own site, or print a copy to post on their refrigerator or work cubicle, it's successful. Only God knows what will make an image effective for that individual- and by effective I mean that it confirms a spiritual truth and strengthens a personal faith. Christ, who has created everything, isn't a snob. I believe He's more than happy to express His love for humanity through the arts.

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