Progress, May 19

Whelp. It’s Sunday. I hope your week went well!

I don’t have a ton of progress to show, as I spent a fair bit of time on Wednesday’s post, and the rest of the time after that in the hospital with my mom, or at the funeral for Geraldine, my best friend’s grandmother. I found out my mom was in the hospital (and that it was serious) and that Geri had died within 3 minutes of each other. Needless to say, my anxiety for my mom and my friend skyrocketed. I still had finishing touches to put on my studio wrap up, so I worked on those Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon, while at work. I got it done, but it was by the skin of my teeth as I was definitely distracted. I was living through the phone calls, texts, and updates from my Aunt and Uncle and my dad, Wade.

I spent Thursday morning in Provo, UT, to see my mom before she went into surgery; then we waited. My Aunt and Uncle were there, along with my dad Wade, while we waited to see how things went. I got the grave news that if she hadn’t been brought to the hospital when she was that she wouldn’t have made it through the night. What’s so scary about that is that my mother is a phenomenally stubborn woman. We’ve had to jostle, cajole, argue, and bribe my mom to go to the hospital before. It’s understandable, her reluctance, because she spends so much time there. Between her liver transplant in 2011, her dialysis, broken hips, ribs, and other ailments, she sees doctors almost more than her family. Sometimes she tries to put off going, to downplay symptoms, to avoid it until absolutely necessary. I’m always terrified when I get voicemails from my dad or vague text messages because we all know my mom isn’t getting better. I’m not ready to lose another parent.

I had to have a frank discussion with my Aunt and Uncle about what’s coming and how to keep her morale up, to keep her fighting. My Uncle is doing his best to be there for his sister, and I know this has been hard on him as well. I lost my dad Mike in September and I’m not ready to lose my mom. She and I often don’t see eye to eye, and her medications have made her say cruel things in the past, but she’s still my mom. Her dementia has been worsening, but she’s aware of it now, and it’s helped our relationship. I love her. I want her to see me graduate. I want to share that accomplishment with her, to be able to show her I did good things with the life she gave me. Do you hear that, Universe? I want my mom to get to see that. I’m keeping her until then. You can’t have her yet.

On Saturday I got up very early and drove up to Logan, UT to be there for Laura and her family as they said goodbye to Grandma Geri. She was an incredibly sweet, kindhearted woman who was a part of my life for the last 14 years. I managed to not totally destroy my makeup during the services, and I got to hug a lot of people I hadn’t seen since September. It was bittersweet.

In the work I did get done…

Beginning of the day to the end.

Beginning of the day to the end.

I finished a piece of Anna that had been sitting sadly in my studio, begging for attention. I’m happy with the way the collage fit together. There’s definitely influence from my Survey Series leaking through here, but I hope in a good way. I had fun with the paint pens, the ink, and the collage elements.

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I also started another of my Seven Stages series, because dammit I am going to get it done! I’ll be working on this one this week, so look for updates on it next week.

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Cheers,

SJ

May 15, Studio Write Up

I am shocked to realize it has been a year since I applied to Transart Institute.  It has been a tumultuous year, with great highs and deep lows, but moments that all contributed to growth. I must thank my advisors, Michael Bowdidge and Mark Roth for the patience, input, and guidance they have given me in this process. They encouraged me when I felt hesitant or unsure, and helped keep me on a path of progress. My cohort group has also been insightful and supportive, while maintaining an honest and helpful voice.  I’ve learned. I have experimented. I was able to create work that felt emotionally and aesthetically resonant.  I have a long way to go, but I feel less like an imposter in my journey.

I revisited my initial creative plan, from my application, and I hate to admit that a fair bit of it went out the window.  I did almost no plein air work aside from some small sketches and I didn’t manage to get in weekly visits to the park.  And that is okay, because my other focus, working from a life, working from multiple models, did factor into my studio very much. I had a solid idea of what I wanted to try with my large pieces, which evolved with every meeting with my advisors.  My focus of portraits, specifically portraits of the people prominent in my day to day life, is the central factor that remained a constant. I am rich in the fact that my framily has been so supportive of what I am doing, and that they have been willing to participate and model for me.

I knew that my plan was already changing during our first residency in Berlin last summer.  I had so many questions, so many ideas that sprang up from our workshops, our conversations, and my readings. I missed having a sounding board of other artists who are interested in your growth as an artist, in helping you to create new and meaningful work.  At the end of the residency I had new research questions as well as the knowledge that my research and my studio practice would be heavily intertwined.  I was so excited and ready to begin this new adventure, and then life threw me some curve balls.

Self Portrait Sketches

Self Portrait Sketches

Study of Ian

Study of Ian

My dad Mike, who had Multiple Sclerosis since I was a baby, was dying. I flew out when we thought he was still going to pull through, then came home. We were wrong, and I went back almost immediately. I was lucky enough to spend the last few weeks of his life sitting with him, reading to him, and holding his hand. He died and I flew back home from California.  I felt relieved, guilty, sadness, anger, and emptiness. I tried to throw myself into this new studio, into my work, but it was hard.  I was grieving and trying to not grieve at the same time. I struggled to get things going, to get the motivation to work with a stranger, according to my plan.

A studio evolution(top to bottom, then left to right): the 3 left photos are from when I first moved in to the basement.  Then I filled it up, even if it was too cold to work in.  Finally, Francis the Dinosaur helped me move in to the new studio upstairs, in which I promptly made a mess.

A studio evolution(top to bottom, then left to right): the 3 left photos are from when I first moved in to the basement. Then I filled it up, even if it was too cold to work in. Finally, Francis the Dinosaur helped me move in to the new studio upstairs, in which I promptly made a mess.

By October I had my space set up, met my model and had our first session.  I had Anna fill out a survey in an attempt to get more of the model’s perspective of arrangement.  I immediately liked her demeanor and we got along well.  I think I was still feeling unsure in my process, and in the way we interacted in our sessions.  I was used to models sitting still, not talking, and not having much of an affect on the final work- but Anna wanted to have conversations with me while I painted.  She gestured and she moved.  She smiled, looked around the room, sometimes even brought her adorable little dogs.  It was a new way to connect to my model.  I don’t feel I was able to get as academically accurate a depiction of Anna, but I was able to capture more of how our sessions went with each work. 

All of the Iterations of Anna… From L to R, top to bottom:   Anna in Progress ,  Anna’s Colors ,  Unfinished Anna ,  Anna Rolling ,  Anna’s Face ,  Anna in Bloom .

All of the Iterations of Anna… From L to R, top to bottom:

Anna in Progress, Anna’s Colors, Unfinished Anna, Anna Rolling, Anna’s Face, Anna in Bloom.

Anna in Bloom .

Anna in Bloom.

We had our last session in December. I had initially planned on having her sit for one more piece but our schedules never seemed to line up again. I also got to move my studio from the frigid basement to an enclosed space upstairs. It felt like my fingers would fall off in the basement and this area was properly heated and had a locking door.  It feels much more like a proper studio, and I love working on my paintings in my new space.

Of course I have my eyes shut… Happily freezing for the Walkie Talkie Dream Garden Soundwalk with Dafna Naphtali and the rest of the TI gang. Thanks to Peter for the photo!

Of course I have my eyes shut… Happily freezing for the Walkie Talkie Dream Garden Soundwalk with Dafna Naphtali and the rest of the TI gang. Thanks to Peter for the photo!

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While in California with my Dad, some of my work was on display at The Red Fox in Logan, UT, as a part of the Gallery Stroll in conjunction with The Block Film and Art Festival. I wasn’t able to hang any of it, but my friends took good care of my work.

While in California with my Dad, some of my work was on display at The Red Fox in Logan, UT, as a part of the Gallery Stroll in conjunction with The Block Film and Art Festival. I wasn’t able to hang any of it, but my friends took good care of my work.

The new space was much needed after our January residency. There were so many modern portrait artists, persons using beautiful colors, symbols, and painting the people around them! I truly felt like my path was being considered by our Transart advisors and faculty, and I found a plethora of new artists to follow for inspiration.  The Drawing Center was a brilliant moment for me.  I got to see how other artists are incorporating symbols and collaging into their portrait work (even if the collaging is drawn on).  Elijah Burgher’s work was especially moving to me, as I saw portraits painted entirely from symbols created in a language only known by the artist.  I don’t think I will move to that far of abstracted portraits for most of my work, but the idea took root.

I was also encouraged to find ways to bring my love of cosplay into my studio practice.  I’m not entirely sure how that is going to work, but its something I am formulating now. I have spoken with my advisors on possible ways to bring cosplay and portraiture, specifically my style of portraiture, together, and next year I will implement some of those ideas.  I am both excited and terrified to see how it goes.

Getting Betty complete was so fulfilling, but getting to wear her with the rest of my Rat Queens made it so much better!

Getting Betty complete was so fulfilling, but getting to wear her with the rest of my Rat Queens made it so much better!

So much progress, so much work, but it was all worth it! The three biggest prop builds I did for this group: the daggers for Betty and the shield and belt piece for Dee.

So much progress, so much work, but it was all worth it! The three biggest prop builds I did for this group: the daggers for Betty and the shield and belt piece for Dee.

I am so pleased with the final iteration of Carnage and how Chiseled Light helped me capture her essence in these photos.  Creating a character who got to live out some of my more violent tendencies (the build became a pseudo-self portrait), an alternate self, was a blast.

I am so pleased with the final iteration of Carnage and how Chiseled Light helped me capture her essence in these photos. Creating a character who got to live out some of my more violent tendencies (the build became a pseudo-self portrait), an alternate self, was a blast.

Fabric is here, patterns have been cut out, and mannequins are ready to be draped.  We are making slow but steady progress now on our Rococo Disney princesses.  Holy horseradish, these gowns are going to be soooo heavy!

Fabric is here, patterns have been cut out, and mannequins are ready to be draped. We are making slow but steady progress now on our Rococo Disney princesses. Holy horseradish, these gowns are going to be soooo heavy!

Unfortunately, one of my projects has had to take a bit of a back seat- The Symbol of the 12, which was a part of Man Bar, has been temporarily shelved, as all of those involved had have major work schedule shifts, so finding a dedicated time to meet has been difficult. Meeting has been spotty at best, so we are working on figuring out a way to get back on track.

The Symbol of the 12 (we call these our cult bags) and the individual symbols of each god.

The Symbol of the 12 (we call these our cult bags) and the individual symbols of each god.

When I got home, I started the process for my Survey Series, based on the process of inquiry with Anna and the help of my advisors.  My research focused on the relationship between artist and model and how that can impact the final work that arises from the partnership. My original goal was to find a way to limit my influence as much as possible to get an artwork that showcased the pure essence of the model.  Yes, it sounds a bit silly to me now, but I had experienced my aesthetic choices taking over the portrait of a friend, to the point she became a placeholder and the work stopped being a portrait of her. I wanted to avoid that, so I set up a new survey, a new questionnaire, with 8 friends who volunteered to be a part of the experiment.  I asked for what they wanted to see in a portrait, how they wanted it created, in what mediums, etc. I didn’t know how I was going to make all these very different portraits feel like they belong together, and I was terrified that my friends wouldn’t like what I created.  I wanted to make a work that captured who these people are to me, how important and loved they are, without me overshadowing them.  As I spoke with my advisors I realized that I couldn’t completely erase myself from the portrait for a number of reasons; A- I was the one creating the work, B- our relationship is what fueled the piece to begin with, so our mutual experiences are what shaped how I see them and how we interact. Once I had made my peace with that knowledge, the first few of the series went really well. Even when I hit snags in the process, I enjoyed making each part of the piece. And the reactions to the finished work was rewarding, as Lou and Christie loved what I had created.

L to R, top to bottom:   Lou ,  Christie ,  Ian ,  Carly ,  Ally ,  Jon ,  Baron ,  CL ; all are 9”x12”, mixed media on panel.

L to R, top to bottom: Lou, Christie, Ian, Carly, Ally, Jon, Baron, CL; all are 9”x12”, mixed media on panel.

Lou , Mixed media on panel   Christie , mixed media on panel

Lou, Mixed media on panel

Christie, mixed media on panel

Carly , Acrylic, acetate, and collage on panel   Ian , Acrylic on panel

Carly, Acrylic, acetate, and collage on panel

Ian, Acrylic on panel

Ally , Acrylic, acetate, ink, and foam on panel   Jon , Collage on panel

Ally, Acrylic, acetate, ink, and foam on panel

Jon, Collage on panel

Baron , Mixed media on panel   CL , Acrylic and acetate on panel

Baron, Mixed media on panel

CL, Acrylic and acetate on panel

Then I hit Ian’s piece.  He wanted a very realistic portrait, in either black and white or very natural colors, which is not how I feel comfortable working. It was a challenge, and I don’t think I succeeded with his piece, especially in comparison to the other 7 in the series. It doesn’t have the same emotional resonance that the other works do, and I feel it doesn’t quite fit with the series.  I learned from the failure of his piece, in comparison with the others, that it’s okay to keep some of my favorite tools.  It is okay to know what my strengths are and where my weaknesses are as an artist.  I learned that pulling too much of myself out of a work can make it less successful, and less impactful. I still plan on redoing his portrait, but with less realistic colors and a collaged background that I hope will more accurately portray how I see him and how important he is to me.

Various Pours as either color studies or stress relief.

Various Pours as either color studies or stress relief.

A few random pages from my sketch book and some digital collaging that I printed out as I try to figure out the logististics of hanging the Survey Series, and possible expansions for the series.

A few random pages from my sketch book and some digital collaging that I printed out as I try to figure out the logististics of hanging the Survey Series, and possible expansions for the series.

I also learned, over the course of this past year, that I tend to be overly optimistic with how much I can accomplish in a set amount of time.  I had planned on having my Seven Stages of Grief series finished at the end of this year, and yet I still have pieces to finish. I realize I had to put them aside for a bit while I grieved my dad; it was too fresh and painful to work on while still mourning him. I got one large piece started this month for the series, and I hope to have it finished by the end of the month.  It’s good to keep setting goals, and I plan to work that into my next year, setting smaller goals that can compound.  I’ve also noticed that having the weekly blog helps me keep track of my progress better and writing each week has helped me detangle some of my thoughts and processes in my head. I’m making good habits and building a good base for my studio practice. 

In-progress piece for the Seven Stages series.

In-progress piece for the Seven Stages series.

I’m excited for the next residency and to keep developing as an artist.  I feel like I’ve made progress in so many areas, and I feel slightly less like an imposter after the work of this past year.  My framily, my advisors, my cohort, and my school have given me the space, the structure and the freedom to grow. 

Thank you for following along on this process!

Progress, May 12

Happy Mother’s Day, to all the people out there being mothers!

This week’s post is short and sweet, because I’m bringing you a great post, a studio reflection, on Wednesday. Also, I’m a tired cat- this week was a whirlwind!

I filled in for my boss at work this week as he’s had some medical issues and doctor’s appointments; I am happy to say he is well! Let me just say I am glad I don’t do his job all the time- it made finagling my studio time a little trickier because I was off of my usual schedule. I did get my large piece of Anna finished though, and I’ve titled it Anna in Bloom. I spent at least 16 hours hunched over the panel, pouring pigment into the different levels and my back is very angry with me over it. I never cease to be amazed at how much I hate the first few layers I pour, thinking I have ruined the whole thing, and then am satisfied with how it all looks dried. I’m excited to see this finished, as it took much more time to complete than I had anticipated.

From the beginning of the week to the end of the week.

From the beginning of the week to the end of the week.

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Anna in Bloom, Acrylic on Panel, 36”x48,” 2019.

I also worked on one other piece of Anna that I want to finish for the studio review; We’ll see if I get it completed in time. I think I tend to underestimate how much time I will actually spend on each piece I create which leads me to being overly optimistic on how much I can finish in any given time frame. It’s something I’ll work on better next semester.

And as mentioned, here are a few shots of my cosplay Carnage, from the photoshoot I did with Chiseled Light Photography. It was really grounding for the character to be in a “natural” environment for her, it felt good to get dirty, play with rusty things, and scare/confuse the junkyard workers. Enjoy, Sheila!

Carnage, photos courtesy of Chiseled Light Photography

Carnage, photos courtesy of Chiseled Light Photography

I also got to celebrate the birthday of Lou, one of my friends/models from the Survey Series. We grilled, played some games, and soaked up some sunshine. I love this lady, so so much. Here’s her portrait with a photo from her birthday shenanigans yesterday.

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Till Wednesday,

SJ


Progress, May 5

Happy Cinco de Mayo, Revenge of the 5th, and a belated Free Comic Book Day and May the 4th be With You!

This week consisted of a lot of writing, editing, and second-guessing myself to turn in my final research paper. Then I finished up my portrait of CL and continued to work to finish up a few straggling pieces in my studio. I was a bit stumped on how to adjust the background for CL without doing a complete color shift. I’ve chatted with her about the ephemeral, and I love her sparkling personality. At first I thought about adding an overall layer of interference, but it didn’t seem complex enough for her, and neither did adding sparklers. I really contemplated the way she helps people find the bright, the light, in dark times, in unhappy times. She helps people to bring things in their life full circle, so I added bubbles, but not hyper realistic bubbles. Bubbles that are light without masking completely the darkness behind them, but that make that darkness less scary to face. She wanted purple, so I gave her so much purple! I haven’t had a chance to share the finished piece with her in person yet, but I will get to do so this week. I am looking forward and also very nervous to see her reaction.

The original background, the original transparency, and two progress shots…

The original background, the original transparency, and two progress shots…

CL

CL

I’m still plugging away at the large poured portrait of Anna. I finally got all of the succulent pattern painted in and can begin the pouring this week. The halo took a bit to work out color-wise, but I feel it looks like it’s progressing well as a whole. I hope to share it finished with you next week!

Slowly but surely getting this completed…

Slowly but surely getting this completed…

Now, for a response from my group’s critique session of the Survey Series:

Sheila, thank you for the positive sentiments! I love that the Survey series is appealing to those of us who love the tactile elements of a painting. I enjoyed including new textures, 3d elements, and a variety of sheens.  I am excited to start a new Survey Series with the next round of people, hopefully this summer, to expand and experiment more. I am so glad people want to explore the settings I am putting the models in, because they are very much microcosms, little universes that belong to my models.  Each background helps tell their story, incorporates elements they either asked for or what I felt was fitting for their personas. 

Peter, thank you for your comments; I want to play with text elements and symbolism, and I will be following that concept to see where it leads, how it can incorporate into the portraits. I feel like this series has allowed me to take the best pieces of my previous work and take it down new paths and create works that are more successful while still being intimate and convey a relationship between model and artist.

Rudi, thanks for the insight in on having more open-ended questions for a future survey.  The whole idea was to give as many choices over to my models, and some of the questions, I feel, were very straight forward, but I can also see how those things may be very foreign to a less art-centric person.  I think I will tweak the survey for the next round, because I definitely have to try another round.

A few of my group as well as my advisors have expressed an interest in seeing me combine my portrait paintings with my love of cosplay somehow. It is something I have wanted to do for a time, but combining cosplay and portraiture- I’m still figuring out how to do that, in my style of artwork, and how to incorporate costume in the portrait without it becoming a portrait of the character/costume. Mark mentioned that the cosplay portraits could almost become a triad of personas in the work, between the model, the artist, and the character.  There are three different dialogues that could happen, and I want to figure out how to make all three heard.

I have a lot of work to do and some ends to wrap up!

Till next week,

SJ

M503 Final Paper

Sarah Jane Eaton

Michael Bowdidge and Mark Roth

M503 Year 1

30 April 2019

The Relationships Between Artist, Model, and Work

The following research examines the relationship between Model and Artist, a dynamic that has changed and shifted with each new artist and model. I focused my attention on the ways the relationship affects the final artwork, the effect on the process of creating a piece, and how much of each participant is visible in the final work. Through examining the recorded connections between past artists and models, as well as my own studio research, I will document how artists are influenced by their models and the relationships with them and how the final artwork captures those associations.

The way our personal biases, experiences, social structures, and communications shape our interactions with one another creates a lens through which we perceive each other. This filter can be very strong if an artist has a current or direct connection with their model and will impact the final image. Because of this, I worked with models who were acquaintances and friends, myself through self-portraits, and strangers, to compare the undercurrents and the connection between model and artist.

Part of my studio research involves giving my models a stronger role in the partnership of creation by allowing them to make choices in how they are depicted, which will hopefully allow me to capture more of their essence- their persona- on my panel. I do not want to completely remove myself from the process or the final piece, but in some works I endeavored to limit the level of my individual aesthetic, my filters, that may cloud the persona of my models. In others I let my perception of the model take over. I found a distinct difference in how successful a piece became when I tried to eliminate my presence completely.

This paper aims to give shape and voice to the model and their contributions to artists, to highlight the power dynamics present, and to investigate the ways the model/artist relationship changes the art produced.

The relationship between model and artist can have a profound effect on the artwork generated from the sessions spent together. The artworks describe the form as well as the presence of the model, which in turn gives shape to the connection the model shared with the artist. There is a balance of responsibility and dependency between the two, which has historically been skewed in the artist’s favor. My questions are: Can the artist give more voice to their models, relinquishing choices, allowing for the model to have a more participatory role? Is this visible in a work of art? How much of the relationship is present in the final work, and does that make each portrait, in part, a self-portrait of the artist?

First, we need to examine some of the traditional arrangements between the model and artist. There will always be some level of association, whether it is professional or personal, between the model and artist. Models were either the subject of the artwork or a placeholder, depending on what the artist projected on to them in the work. Very often little was known about a model, even though their face/body/likeness was preserved in the work of the artist. Even though there is a partnership needed in the creation of a work of art, between the model and the artist, the artist rarely credits the model. This partnership can extend beyond the studio into personal life via friendship, romantic relations, or acquaintanceship (Oakley).

Figure models were often thought of as barely above prostitutes in the 1800’s, regardless of their relationships outside of the studio, just a person to pay for the use of their body. The model was there as a physical object for the artist to capture the light, the form, detached from personal life. Howard Oakley brings this up when referencing Joanna Hiffernan, an Irish woman who transcended the professional role to become a companion to multiple artists. She appears in paintings by both James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Gustave Courbet and was a lover to both. In some of their works, she is named in the titles where other works she takes on the mantle of the mannequin, standing in for fictitious characters (Oakley). It presents the question of whether she would have been named had she not had such close relationships with the artists? She became a part of their personal lives, attached to more than just the canvases she graced.

As an artist, I am more interested in painting the people around me, my friends, family, and acquaintances as they are rather than using them as stand ins for specific poses. They inspire me and encourage me. I will admit that there must be some attraction, but for me it is rarely sexual. Gilbert J. Rose examines the ambiguity of the model/artist pairing, noting that often the act of posing for a painting is a way to sanction a relationship between a model and the artist, but that artists such as Picasso and Henri Matisse saw themselves as the most important element, and that the model was simply a “trampoline” off of which they could bounce themselves (Rose). Since my models are primarily from my daily life, I feel like I humanize them more; I am not looking for what I can get out of them, but rather a way to give back to the important individuals in my life.

One of the most significant pieces I set out to create, which was not a self-portrait, was of a dear friend named Joanna who agreed to sit for a session. The original concept had a beautiful, detailed, and vibrant design, bringing in my love of Byzantine halos and Art Nouveau framework. I had a great plan to use drawing, collage, and tar gel, but I could not make it work. The painting fought me as soon as I started drawing on the panel and kept fighting me until I took a step back. I realized the concept was too busy for my minimalist friend, that I was projecting onto them because we had a history, a past relationship that my brain was trying to push on to her portrait. She was becoming a placeholder and not a subject, until I scaled down what I saw as my influence on her esthetic. I felt like our friendship and my excitement were obscuring her persona in my original rough draft, as if there was too much of me accounted for in the image. This led me to the question of what percentage of me and what percentage of her was in the first piece versus the final painting? How much was actual presence, and how much was a product of misplaced enthusiasm?

I wanted to show Joanna as she is, without my influence diminishing her essence in the painting. An article in The International Journal of Psychoanalysis recounts a panel discussion on the relationship’s artists have with their models, and not just the humans in front of them but the mental models as well. Harold and Elsa Blum bring up how Pablo Picasso painted his “’family’ of friends” into his work, but that he also superimposed his own symbolic costuming, creating self-portraits of the figures included in Family of Saltimbanques (1). Not only does he remove their essence in this way, leaving only their resemblance, but he uses other elements to reinforce his superiority in the group, reminding the viewer (or himself, or them?) that he is the most important element to the dynamic (Miller, J. David & Gilbert J. Rose (2005).

I wanted to know how the relationships of artists and models may affect the final artworks generated from their time together. One of the most well-known figure painters is Picasso. Much has been written about his tumultuous affairs, marriages, and unions with almost all his female models. His relationship with surrealist artist Dora Maar led to some of his most iconic paintings, including Dora Maar au Chat (2), and the relationship they shared is evident in the way her portrayed her. Their turbulent time together is detailed in the way he has taken her apart and remade her. The sharp angles and distinct lines that dismantle her body, reconstructing her broken form, the red slash at her neck all feel violent. Even the color on her arms is set in separate, unblended sections, further rupturing her to pieces. The only place on her we see a softening is in the color on her rearranged face. She is so large in an imposing chair, filling the space of the room floor to ceiling, side to side. He painted her as a person who filled the space of a room which may seem flattering or may seem domineering, and her claw-like fingernails are a clue to her fierceness. I also found it interesting that the cat suffers no fragmentation, just basic flattening and scale reduction. Unlike Maar, this kitten does not seem to have hurt Picasso in any meaningful ways.

In the article, “Pablo Picasso: Women are Either Goddesses or Doormats,” Mark Hudson details the many models with which the artist engaged in affairs, relationships, and even marriage. Picasso would even see multiple women at the same time, sometimes pitting them against each other. The models were used up, drained of what he could extract from their lives, then discarded for the next woman. Hudson also notes on the mental health of Picasso’s models, after their relationship had ended, and it is not a comforting idea that many of his models struggled with depression, isolation, or other issues after parting company with the artist.

It seems curious then, that in his late life he met a young woman whom he could not conquer. Sylvette came to his attention in the spring of 1954, with multiple drawings and paintings coming from their modeling sessions, often portraying her with her high ponytail. The care and delicacy of the linework, the gentleness in her fragmentation for his cubist works seems almost reverential to me (3). Some critics write off the work from this era as less emotional, but I like the idea that Picasso could still create beautiful, moving work, without having to sleep with the model, without destroying another human being (Sooke). They had very different relationships which I feel is obvious in the ways he portrayed the two distinct women.

In my readings I came across an article from Grace Glueck where she proposes that many of her contemporary artists (the 1980’s) choose to work from professional models to eliminate “the complex psychological, emotional and sexual overtones of such relationships” that arise from working with close friends, relatives, or lovers. She too comments on the way Picasso worked his way through lovers as models, and that his catalog is virtually a documentation of his conquests. His associations with his models were almost always intimate, where many artists prefer to keep a professional distance. She notes that some artists still prefer the familiarity of working with known models, often documenting their growth and changes, both physically and emotionally, across a span of works.

This left me to wonder about how these varying levels of intimacy could affect the final work, or how that relationship may be evident in the portrayal of the model. “The Artist’s Model” details the way the dynamic between the two can shift. It demonstrates how the artist can make visible emotions, and how they can manipulate the medium to make an image that is both representational of an individual while at the same time creating a foreign entity (Gordon). My models are all people close to me, persons with whom I share a close connection. I am constantly learning about them and the ways we connect as I create around them. Even when I paint myself, it helps me to articulate my emotional state, my thoughts, and my ideas. I can explore my relationship with myself, or my relationship with my model through the work.

I have always worked with models that I knew on some level, even in my undergraduate studies, people with which I shared connections. I am not unique in this instance, as contemporary artists use people in their immediate lives as models. Wendy Weitman notes that Elizabeth Peyton “turned to those around her, friends and colleagues, many of whom are also artists, whose beauty has affected her own life deeply” to pose as models, when reviewing the works included in Ghost. While Peyton is recognized for her depictions of celebrities and historical figures, she also includes her close friends.

Since I almost exclusively use friends and relatives as models, I was curious to see if my artwork looked different, if it felt different from my usual style if I used a model who was a stranger to me. There was no personal relationship, no shared history to influence how I saw the model or to color my perception of them. I put out a call for individuals willing to be a part of my research and who I had never met before. That was how I came to know Anna. We had a connection through a mutual friend, and she agreed to pose for me as well as answer questions about the process from her point of view.

I encouraged Anna to pose however she felt most at ease, and at the level of nudity with which she was comfortable; I wanted this to be a positive experience for each of us. She asked to have conversations while I worked, rather than a silent session. This presented a challenge as she moved while we talked, becoming very animated at various moments in the exchange. It gave me more insight into her mannerisms, her expressions, and her personality. Even though we began as strangers, our familiarity grew into an acquaintanceship, then eventually a friendship, with both of us becoming more relaxed in each session. We had conversations about large and small things, and I began to see our relationship evolve. As I would paint, Anna would comment on the colors, how I painted her nose, the way I used the various materials, and we began to share ideas.

I had begun a large painting of Anna from our first sitting, combined with a few notes she gave me as a part of a questionnaire. I had asked for simple symbols to include in a work that would be self-described, without my filter on her persona. I worked on this larger piece concurrently with our smaller sessions from life, and I was amazed to see how it evolved as we began to be better acquainted. There was an issue that kept coming up in my studio research- how do I create a work that has less of my own schema filtered on to that of my model? I still saw some of my perception of her personality filtering in, and I wanted to lessen my influence to give Anna a portrait that was wholly her.

I also realized how dependent the artist is on the model when it comes to creating. If the model is late, or does not show, the work cannot progress. There were times our schedules did not match up and we would go weeks without getting to work together. In her blog post “The Relationship Between Artist and Model,” for the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Ellen Altfest remarked, “It might seem like the artist has all the power in the artist model relationship, but the model has a real power, and that is the power to leave.” Unless a portrait artist works solely from photographs or in self-portraits, this is one of the greatest powers a model has over the artist. I feel that I want to give more emphasis, more voice to my models; I want to hear their side of the story, share the power with them.

Some artists involve their models to higher degrees than others. Maynard Dixon became friends with his model George Whitewing, eventually collaborating on other projects, becoming equal creative contributors (Winther). Dixon’s poem “Interpreter” conveys the idea that the artist is interpreting a living moment, an idea, and capturing it, where as the model is doing their best to interpret the intent, the drive or need of the artist, to feed it back to them. Alberto Giacometti exemplified this, believing that his models were active participants in the process. James Lord shared his account of being painted by Giacometti, who actively sought his model’s opinion and input (Lord). It is fascinating to see an extended account of a sitting from the model’s perspective, as we often only see the finished artwork, with some blurb from the artist.

Another account of a sitting with a famous portrait artist comes from Mary D. Garrard, when she commissioned, with her mother, a portrait by Alice Neel (4). Garrard offers a keen take on the proclivities of the artist, the way she pulled out truths from her models to embed in the paint, the way she liked to catch them off guard. Garrard recounts how Neel insisted on painting her just as she was when she walked into the studio. It was a choice she made, as the artist, on how best to capture the persona of Garrard on a canvas. The pose, the androgyny, the flattening of color are all characteristics familiar in Neel’s portraits, the choices she made as the artist to convey who her model was. Her choices, not the model’s- her influence, her presence is in the work, a filter on the model. I wondered if I could limit my choices, allowing for more of the models’ essence, their persona to shine through my work.

I began, with the help of my advisers, to relinquish some of my choices to my models. With Anna, I made the choices on the canvas, she made the choices of the form. I was still painting her with some of my byzantine-styled halos, with patterns creating a background, with unnatural color. But I wanted to go further. I wanted to explore what would happen if I gave my models the chance to make the majority of the choices for their portraits, and what that might do to the resulting work. Could I limit my presence in a work, to get an unfiltered depiction of my models? I asked for a group of friends to be a part of this experiment, giving them a survey on what they would want to see, how they would want to be painted by me.

I gave my models the decisions on materials, style, even the pose and framing of the portrait. My goal was to give them as many choices as possible to capture a more complete version of them. Most of the eight participants gave some of the choices back to me, one gave almost all the decision-making power back to me, and one was very determined in what he wanted to see me create. On the lenient end, Lou gave me very minimal direction; she wanted a close-up portrait with bright colors and elements of collage. At first, I was a little dismayed that she did not have more preferences, but she assured me that she trusted me to make something beautiful that displayed our friendship (5). I combined painting, drawing, and collage to create a unique piece, free from constraints. I am now looking to artists such as Mickalene Thomas for inspiration to incorporate collage and assemblage into my paintings. Her work is expressive, dimensional, and layered, and the way she combines various mediums into one image feels very deliberate, as if she is selecting each element to represent the model accurate to her perception of them.

On the opposite end, Ian was very specific in the way he wanted to see himself portrayed, with an emphasis on what I liked about him. I struggled with his portrait. His choices eliminated most of my standard art-making avenues, and I did not know how to complete the work to his satisfaction without my usual tools at my disposal (6). My vibrant, emotional colors, my abstractions and exaggerations were gone. I was left with a portrait that feels less solid than the others, less representative of how I actually feel about Ian. In comparing the emotion of Lou’s portrait and Ian’s, I think I limited myself too much- I took too much of myself out of his portrait that it feels less dimensional than the other works in the experiment. In trying to limit myself, I limited the amount of our relationship that could show in the painting.

This realization reinforced my idea that all portraits are a type of self-portrait, in that we are capturing our relationship with the model in the way we paint them. This also made me recognize that my goal of eliminating the artist’s presence in a piece is counterproductive to creating emotionally resonant work. We can try to lessen the percentage of our essence in a piece, but removing it completely takes some of the strength of the portrayal away. While I had to remove some of my aesthetic from my piece of Joanna, I still wanted to convey my love and appreciation for her. I can reign in my ideas, so I don’t smother the presence of my model without taking away the richness our relationship gives the artwork.

The relationship between model and artist can have a profound effect on the artwork generated from the sessions spent together. Being aware of the type of relationship you have with your model allows you to manage how that is portrayed in your work. As artists, we are responsible for recognizing how our models influence our creative processes and giving them credit for how they contribute to the progression and completion of our work. We have the ability to capture our connections and preserve them, honoring their vital role in our artistry.

1.  Family of Saltimbanques,  Pablo Picasso, Oil on Canvas, 1905

1. Family of Saltimbanques, Pablo Picasso, Oil on Canvas, 1905

2.  Dora Maar au Chat , Pablo Picasso, Oil on Canvas, 1941

2. Dora Maar au Chat, Pablo Picasso, Oil on Canvas, 1941

3.  Portrait de Sylvette David 21 , Pablo Picasso, Oil on Canvas, 1954

3. Portrait de Sylvette David 21, Pablo Picasso, Oil on Canvas, 1954

4.  Mary D. Garrard 1977 , Alice Neel, 1977

4. Mary D. Garrard 1977, Alice Neel, 1977

5.  Ian , Sarah Jane Eaton, Acrylic and Ink on Panel, 2019

5. Ian, Sarah Jane Eaton, Acrylic and Ink on Panel, 2019

6.  Lou , Sarah Jane Eaton, Mixed Media on Panel, 2019

6. Lou, Sarah Jane Eaton, Mixed Media on Panel, 2019

Bibliography:

Progress, April 27

Happy Saturday!  This is coming in a day early as tomorrow will be jam packed with nerdiness.  We have a Rat Queens photoshoot first thing in the morning, then a Dungeons and Dragons session, all wrapped up with an episode of Game of Thrones at the end.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to fit a nice round of writing in there without bailing on long made plans, so here ya go. 

It felt good to get back to studio work this week.  After recovering from con, managing to dodge con crud, and putting my house back together I got down to business on CL and Baron (no huns were defeated, sadly). I was able to get the piece of Baron completed, and I’m about 75% through with CL.  I also got another edit of my paper finished, reviewed, and just have to make my final edits before turning it in.  I can’t believe the semester will be over in just a few weeks, but I’m also relieved as I have 2 art shows to gear up for and cracking down hard on our Disney Rococo starts as soon as I turn in my final reflection.  I also received a commission from an individual who wants me to create an entire series of portraits done in the style of Jon’s piece, with the layering of paper and possibly thicker layers, personalized for each model.  It makes my heart happy that the work I’m doing is resonating so well with those who view it.  I hope the Survey Series goes over well at the shows this summer. 

IMG_0576.jpg

I got to share Baron’s portrait with him last night.  He grinned his big silly grin and just giggled a bit when he first saw it, which was a good sign.  I got to explain all of the elements I included, with which he seemed very pleased. I began his piece with the most “natural” background paper I had, an earthy brown with a leaf motif done in a raw umber, outlined in pale beige.  I added a digital image I had made of his light levels, taking it down to basic lines, and collaged that on to the panel.  I then built up layers of transparent paint, beginning with yellows, then adding oranges, reds, and finally burnt umber and raw umber.  By the time I had finished the deepest shades, they original yellow wasn’t as “poppy” as I wanted, so I went through and added elements of neon yellow in the highlights and for his zipper teeth. I loved the color gradation and the way it references fire.

Baron is our nature boy, and worked summers at a scout camp, so I wanted to include elements of fire (he’s bordering on being a pyromaniac), camping, and dirt (he is also always joking about just laying in the dirt).  Instead of a halo I gave him a haze of gold, as if the gold is the heat distortion rising from the fire he became, but the gold is still there, keeping that “holy” element.  I knew I also wanted to include matches and duct tape, as they are some of his staples for camping, and somehow incorporate the essence of the 12, as Baron helped us create the Cult of the 12.  I struggled with getting the burnt matches to stop breaking as I tried to attach them to the piece.  My original idea was to frame all of the edges in a pattern of matches, but they kept breaking. Then I realized I could include 12 matches, half of them burnt, half of them whole, to represent the 12 gods.  I was still trying to find a good way to reinforce the burnt matches and wound up dipping them in mod podge and flex bond to stop them from crumbling .  I wrapped the edges in duct tape and secured the matches to the panel with more tape.  More mod podge filled in the gaps in the tape, which was too shiny and got a dry brushing with more burnt umber to dirty it up.  I added the hexagon stickers for Baron’s passion for D&D as well as the 3 main gods from the 12, further bringing that to the surface.  It’s not a super shiny painting, it’s a little dirty, and a little bumpy, but warm and cozy, just like Baron.  I’m pleased with how it turned out and how it fits in the series.

Close up of progress on CL.

Close up of progress on CL.

CL’s piece is coming along as well.  I need to finish her face, and add more oomf to her hair.  I am absolutely having a blast adding layers and layers to her hair.  Some of it is matte, some gloss, some is mixed with interference, some has more opacity, other spots have lots of layers of transparent paint built up.  I am still decided on how to incorporate a few elements into a background that fits with where the rest of the painting has gone.  The original background seems a bit too dark, and not quite right.  It will be something to work on this week. I feel like her personality it beginning to shine through though, so it’s going in a good direction.  Well, I think that is all for this week, friends.

I’m off to bed for a good night’s sleep to prep for the shenanigans tomorrow.

Cheers!

Progress, but not really, April 21

I am a very tired, very happy, almost sick, human. This week was jam-packed with costuming, every single day. Smooshed into every day, around my work schedule, we ground out all of the Rat Queens, a demon, a few Game of Thrones character touch-ups, and an artwork con kit.  Each day there were friends at our house frantically finishing our cosplays for FanX, which took place April 19-20 at the Salt Palace downtown.  I was finished with Betty at the beginning of the week, so I spent quite a few hours helping my friends get their costumes put together.  Con Crunch was in full effect, doing all of the last-minute painting, attaching, accessorizing, and planning for wearing a costume for 8+ hours on a convention floor.  Inevitably, there are issues last minute, including foam pieces melting, shoes breaking, losing bits, and makeup malfunctions.  Luckily, as all of those happened, we either had a quick fix or a “well, fuck it,” attitude that allowed us to have a blast. 

Sleep was not my friend this weekend, as most nights I was lucky to get to sleep by 11pm.  My Friday and Saturday started with my panic-waking at 4:30am each morning, afraid I would sleep through my alarm.  Needless to say, I got a little loopy each day from sleep deprivation.  It made for an interesting convention…  I got painted by CrowCawFx (https://crowcawfx.com/) at 7am Friday morning.  We made it to the convention by 10am (after running in to the store on the way and freaking a few people out) where we spent the next 10 hours running around for pictures, photo ops, and supporting fellow cosplayers and artists in Cosplay Central.  Kapi and I made a point to try to stay in character when interacting with new people, which was hilarious.  We often got asked what we were from, a common question asked by fans if unfamiliar with your cosplay character.  With perfect deadpan, we replied, “Hell,” and watched the processing zoom across their faces.  The “play” part of cosplay is one of my favorite elements, because it takes costuming into the realm of performance art.  I’m not just wearing a cosplay, I am performing the character on a grand and very personal scale, and it can be exhausting.

Over six feet tall and raising hell!  Photos courtesy of FanX, Chiseled Light, and Mark Loertscher.

Over six feet tall and raising hell! Photos courtesy of FanX, Chiseled Light, and Mark Loertscher.

 I made it home by 9:30pm to spend over an hour scrubbing red paint off of my body.  I’m still getting pink off in my shower today.

The next day I was back at con by 8:30am to get my prosthetic ears put on by Jonathon before all the people were allowed on the vendor floor.  Being in character for Betty was so easy.  She loves candy, drinking, psychedelics, and her friends.  When the rest of my Queens made it to the con my shift at the booth was over, so we roamed the convention floor, looking for wares on which to spend our coin.  Drinking the whole time.  I may have been inebriated, but we were so in character that the few people who recognized us loved it.  I fed tiny chocolate candy mushrooms to our security detail (***See footnote on security below), told everyone I was absolutely scarier than a squirrel, and generally made mischief and fun all day.  At the end of the con, we cut off all our feet (ha! we wish), loaded out our booth, and collapsed into piles of tired people-goo.  

Betty the Smidgen!  I am really proud of how this turned out. Being Betty for the day was a blast, and it was even better with the rest of my Queens by my side…

Betty the Smidgen! I am really proud of how this turned out. Being Betty for the day was a blast, and it was even better with the rest of my Queens by my side…

Cosplay photos courtesy of Chiseled Light, with FanX.  I think we nailed it.

Cosplay photos courtesy of Chiseled Light, with FanX. I think we nailed it.

To the slaughter, Rat Queens! I am really damn proud of our group.  Photo on the left again courtesy of Chiseled Light and FanX.

To the slaughter, Rat Queens! I am really damn proud of our group. Photo on the left again courtesy of Chiseled Light and FanX.

We got to meet Tom Ellis and Mark Pellegrino, aka Lucifers, from the television shows Lucifer and Supernatural, respectively, with our friend Ekalb the Elf dressed as Constantine.  Tony Todd was very sweet, and Alice Cooper didn’t know what to think of my Betty.

We got to meet Tom Ellis and Mark Pellegrino, aka Lucifers, from the television shows Lucifer and Supernatural, respectively, with our friend Ekalb the Elf dressed as Constantine. Tony Todd was very sweet, and Alice Cooper didn’t know what to think of my Betty.

Since we don’t have a physical location for Cospace at this time, we used our booth to help promote the artistic endeavors of our members.  I had a small sampling of my art up for sale and display and I got to have some really great discussions about my methods, practice, and my studies (a few of my pieces found new homes!  Yay!).  We had work from Yaz, one of our founding members, as well as the work of Lisa and Val.  Our photographer Kirk had a photo backdrop set up, helping promote his work as well as advertising for our Midsummer’s Eve Ball.  {I’m really excited that he is going to do a location shoot for our Rat Queens group this coming Sunday!  We put so much work into our cosplay so I wanted us to have some great shots to show it off.}

Our Cosplay Central guests did an amazing job of promoting their craft, interacting with fans, and having a great time.  It was wonderful to see all of their dedication pay off in well-made costumes, spot-on character play, and some made that money selling prints! 

On top of getting everything ready for FanX, I was asked by a phenomenal photographer to do an on-site shoot in a cosplay of my choosing on Wednesday.  Considering that he is brought in from out of state to shoot cosplay photos for each Salt Lake FanX and always manages to make my cosplays look amazing, I couldn’t say no!  Bryan, aka Chiseled Light Photography (https://www.chiseledlight.com/cosplay) and I met early to go to a scrapyard to set the scene for Carnage.  She’s my first complete Original Character design, so I really wanted to get some stellar images of her in a natural habitat, finding shiny things and dirty things and creepy things in the junkyard.  I got to tell Bryan all about the concept and evolution of Carnage, the induction as an official Anarchy Girls Cosplay member, and scare the hell out of the scrap yard employees.  You see, in Carnage, I am over six feet tall, and with the hair and bullet crown, I stand right around 6’4”.  With the makeup, the armor, and all the bullets, they didn’t really know what to do with me.  Since this shoot was on Wednesday and the convention was Friday and Saturday, I probably won’t get the images back for a few weeks. I’ll share some when I do!

In non-cosplay related news, I was invited to show and sell my work at the John Wesley Powell 150th Fine Arts Festival in June.  I’ll be processing new lumens, creating a few larger pours inspired by the Green and Colorado Rivers once my semester is fully over.  I’m also scouting locations for our Art Show in May when I’m in Vernal this weekend.  I’ll be dealing with some family matters and making some plans for the care of my mother, so wish me luck, as she is not happy about it.  Her memory is deteriorating at an alarming rate and she refuses to admit it or allow us to set up any doctor appointments to address the issue.  This growing up stuff is for the birds; watching my best friend, my mother, become less and less herself is devastating, and it’s definitely taking a toll on our family.  I sometimes wish I could go back to the time when I was young and my mom and dad were invincible, infallible, and would always be there for me.  Besides wearing pants and student loan debt, it’s one of the worst parts of growing up.

Well, on that note, I’m going to put my house back together now, drink some juice, and get ready to hit my studio hard this week! 

Cheers!

SJ

 

***Security.  So, at comic conventions, just like the real world, there are bad eggs.  Cosplayers especially deal with people who either can’t separate character from human or think cosplay=consent.  It does not.  I have had issues with people touching without permission, taking my photo in compromising positions (like making adjustments in a corner or trying for upskirt or downshirt shots), trying to “casually" touch my breasts or backside, and others who just don’t know how to take “NO” for an answer.  Many of the well-known cosplayers deal with this behavior regularly, unfortunately, and some cosplayers deal with stalking.  I, in fact, have a Civil Stalking Injunction against an individual who couldn’t understand that I wanted nothing to do with him and that my cosplay didn’t entitle him to be a part of my life. Court is expensive but worth not having to deal with him again. 

Because of this issue, Salt Lake FanX has a security team dedicated to our cosplayers.  They actively monitor our booths and make sure no one is bothering us, and that known offenders aren’t allowed near us.  They are a phenomenal team; Patrick, their lead, takes great care of us at each convention.  The one downside is that we aren’t allowed to leave the booth without an escort, a security detail to maintain our safety (unfortunately, yes, some cosplayers have been physically assaulted in the past).  Anytime we need to leave the booth for food, bathroom breaks, or to leave for photo-ops or to walk the floor we have a “puppy” with us.  I call them our puppies because they have to follow us around, and it’s absolutely an affectionate term- I genuinely love our security team. 

I have been in trouble with our detail for accidentally losing them in the crowd (distracted by shiny things) or for wandering too far from the booth in conversation, and Patrick usually gets stuck corralling me. (Sometimes he gets stuck shopping with me too, and ends up carrying my plushies- picture a big tattooed air force guy carrying around an armful of tentacle kitties and purrmaids- he’s such a good sport!)  I try to be a good cosplayer now and only leave with them in tow.   When we were walking around as Rat Queens, even though I was off shift from the booth, I had a few puppies with us (they rotate for breaks).  Each was a great sport and wasn’t obvious, and dealt with my tipsy-ass self, feeding them candy and pretending to stab people.  Eventually, Patrick said we were safe to walk around unattended, so whatever issue was there was dealt with in a professional manner, without any fuss.  Kudos to the whole FanX Security- They are great peeps!

Progress, April 15

I apologize that this post is a day late- I think I am in full panic mode at this point, and the universe just keeps throwing curves. Between work and Game of Thrones yesterday my allotted homework time got gobbled up.  Also, It’s con crunch time, and boy are we crunching.

Allow me to vent for a moment, because I feel the need… There were people over at our house every single day last week, in some capacity of cosplay.  Every. Single. Day.  I love my friends; they’re my family, but I am definitely feeling a little claustrophobic at this point- there are tables taking over my living room, my spare room is filled with foam and armor, and it has taken us far longer than we anticipated to get finished.  It doesn’t help that I go into teacher mode when we are crafting, overseeing things I probably don’t really need to, which encourages my friends to not move on unless I am supervising.  When I do get asked for help, I tend to end up doing the projects for them, so I just decided to own it.  I made some amazing stuff that I didn’t really have time to do, and it cut into the projects I’m already working on. But I think we finagled a trade for what I’ve put into their cosplays, so I hope it feels less like I’ve been exploited in the end. 

The second gripe is that they all are working on things at my house.  I’ve told them they can take their materials home and work on them there, but they feel uncomfortable doing so?  I don’t know, but my house has been taken over, my time has been commandeered, and work has been kind of crazy, with me being on call and going in to cover for my sick boss.  I just need Con to be over so I can focus solely on my paintings and paper, and naps.  Lots of naps.

The progression of the daggers, from start to finish, Left to right, top to bottom.

The progression of the daggers, from start to finish, Left to right, top to bottom.

Dee’s shield, from gesso to spray paint, to base paint layer, to weathering, to complete.

Dee’s shield, from gesso to spray paint, to base paint layer, to weathering, to complete.

Dee’s belt accessory… I molded the tentacles with instamorph onto a skull Tenisha had cut in half.  When I painted it gold with spray paint I lost all the detail paint on the skull, so I added it all back in.  I’m totally keeping this.

Dee’s belt accessory… I molded the tentacles with instamorph onto a skull Tenisha had cut in half. When I painted it gold with spray paint I lost all the detail paint on the skull, so I added it all back in. I’m totally keeping this.

Slowly building layers of opacity onto CL.

Slowly building layers of opacity onto CL.

I have been editing and spicing up my paper, working on CL and Baron, and not much else in my studio.  I got my taxes done, so that was some adulting. All of my spare time has been devoted to con crunch- cosplays and organizing our booth.  Anarchy Girls Cospace members get the opportunity to show off our artwork at our cosplay booth this year, so I also have been selecting smaller pieces to take with me to con.  I’ve got snacks, prints, cards, hanging materials, and easels to wrangle into our booth, promo materials for our Midsummer Eve Ball, and makeup to cart in.  It’s going to be hectic, chaotic, stressful, and also amazing.  If I’m still alive next Sunday I’ll share pics. 

Going to work some more,

SJ

Progress, April 7

Happy Sunday!

It’s been another long week; last weekend feels very long ago.  I have struggled with one of the pieces I’m working on, and wound up restarting it, and I’m much happier with the final result.  Jon asked for the greatest amount of abstraction out of all the surveys, and I wanted to give him a portrait that was abstracted but still fit with the series.  I broke his form down into angular shapes of light, taking my normal levels of distortion much further.  I had initially planned on cutting each level of light out of a different paper and then piecing them together like a puzzle.  I learned that I am not that precise, and after cutting papers out for hours, I gave up on that plan of action.  I then recut each sheet out as a whole of the largest piece, then cut away at each layer.  After I had all nine layers cut out, I made a few adjustments and then stacked them all, creating a slight but physical relief. 

Detail shots on the ends, progress in the center.

Detail shots on the ends, progress in the center.

Jon , Collage on Panel, 2019

Jon, Collage on Panel, 2019

Each layer of paper was selected to show the adventurous spirit I see in Jon.  He asked for blue to be a dominant color, so I centered around the deep indigos, cornflower blues, and oceanic teals I found.  I included paper that dealt with travel, as Jon’s line of work deals with avionics and he both loves his job and is great at it. He’s traveled all over in his career, and that gave way to the map in the background.  He’s also a fellow nerd and gamer, so the hexagonal stickers stand in for d20’s, bringing that aspect we share to the foreground.  Jon absolutely refused to hear anything about his portrait till it was finished, he wanted a surprise.

I have pictures included of last week’s work on CL and Baron, but I spent so much time reworking Jon’s piece that I didn’t get very far with theirs. 

CL and Baron’s backgrounds, respectively

CL and Baron’s backgrounds, respectively

It’s also con crunch time.  For those not in the Comic Convention know, Con Crunch is when you realize you have two weeks to finish your cosplays, get your booth ready, and plan out your adventures for the event.  I am nearly finished with my Betty, I have 3 elements that I have to complete.  My cloak needs to be hemmed and distressed, my wig needs some extra wefts sewn into it, and my daggers… Well, they need work.  I got them covered in Worbla, a thermoplastic that is moldable when hot then cools and hardens.  Then I primed, sanded, and filled them, but there were still some rough spots.  I tried a type of filler that absolutely didn’t work, so now I need to do the sandable/filler primer routine again a few times before I can coat them in Plastidip and paint them.  I’m also helping a few of the other cosplayers in our group to work on their Rat Queens and we are in slight panic mode.  On the Anarchy Girls Cospace side, we are prepping our materials for our booth, getting postcards ready to advertise our Midsummer Eve Ball, and organizing our volunteers.  We, along with Beck Leather, are managing Cosplay Central- the area for the local cosplay guests and spotlights.  It’s going to be chaotic and busy and a blast. 

Betty is coming together.  The daggers need work, the shirt is finished, the cloak is almost there.  My two main inspiration pics, because comic characters get drawn differently all the time.  I am especially proud of my belt.  The loops were sewn together then attached to the main belt.  Almost there!

Betty is coming together. The daggers need work, the shirt is finished, the cloak is almost there. My two main inspiration pics, because comic characters get drawn differently all the time. I am especially proud of my belt. The loops were sewn together then attached to the main belt. Almost there!

See you next week!

SJ

Progress, March 31

Well, it’s been a rough week- I’ll explain in a bit. I didn’t get as much done this week as I had hoped. I’m not in my studio right now, and I didn’t photograph the work I did get to this week.

With Carly and Ally completed, I started on the backgrounds for Jon, CL, and Baron. I painted the panel for CL in deep, muted violets, blues, and teal. I then started painting the base layer for her figure, with her hair a mass of curls and purples. CL lives about 45 minutes away from our core group, and we don’t get to hang out as often as I’d like. She is so smart, intuitive, and caring, with a genuine interest in helping those around her. I want to create lots of layers of transparency for her piece.

I collaged the backgrounds for both Jon and Baron, using fantastic papers I found that suit them both well. Jon works in avionics and travels a lot for his job- so I found a print of an old map for his background. He asked for the greatest level of abstraction out of all the series, and I started working with the concept of collaging his whole portrait, using flight maps, wiring diagrams, and a few other digital collages I will print out to make each layer of light.

WIth Baron, I found a background that felt like it fit his love of the outdoors and his love of all things viking. I only got that far on his piece this week. I am about 20% through CL’s, 15"% through Jon’s, and 10% into Baron’s portrait. I at least got them all started by the 1st, which was a goal, but I didn’t get as far as I wanted.

This Thursday was the third anniversary of David’s death. I knew it was coming, but it hit really hard. I think the more you heal, the more you are able to process. I am processing some of the emotions, questions, and pain that I have not been able to face until now. It seems I still have moments of feeling guilty about finding happiness again. It feels like a sort of betrayal? And then if feel guilty for feeling guilty, because I shouldn’t feel sad about finding good things in my life. I have a friend, who is also a therapist, who has been helping me understand that it’s okay to have a whole slew of conflicting emotions, all at the same time, and to take little chunks to sort through at a time. And that it’s okay to struggle, as long as you keep going.

I struggle with the fact that I have questions that I will never have the answers to, that I will never get to ask. I struggle with reconciling the multiple ways he is remembered, the ways he is missed, and the remnants and reminders of what he left. I struggle with the concept of “not speaking ill of the dead,” because there are wounds I have from him that still hurt, that still take their toll on my current life and relationships, that are hard to talk about when others refuse to acknowledge that he caused them. I struggle with the idealization of the dead. I have friends who saw David in a different light, who had different experiences with him, and in effect, he was a different person to them. They grieve, they mourn the loss of that person, and I feel guilty because I don’t miss him in the same ways they do, because I knew a different man than them.

I struggle with the idea that I don’t feel the same longing that they do, and my brain is mean to me and tells me that makes me a bad person. I still grieve, but in different ways and for different aspects of him. I have to fight my own brain, societal norms, and even other friends that I am not bad, that I am not callous, for allowing myself to still be angry, to not whitewash his life because he’s gone now. I am working on allowing myself to feel the anger, the sadness, and the relief, the cascade of emotions, and to make whatever peace I can with them.

I spent most of Wednesday night crying at work in the shop. I had a giant stack of paper to shred, so I put my anger into the paper and let the shredder eat it. I put my embarrassment, my sadness, my shock, my sense of abandonment, my grief- all into the papers that I then turned to gibbles. I was left with a giant box of something softer than what I began with, something easier to pull apart and digest.

My partner, Ian, has been so understanding, supportive, and caring this week. I don’t know how I would get through this without the support of my framily. They have been there for me to cry on, to hold me, to help me talk through this. Ian knows a lot of the abuse I went through, and he knows that I do my best to not let it color our relationship. It may influence or inform aspects of us, but it doesn’t overtake who we are together. He made my favorite food for dinner on Thursday and then he and Lou cuddled me on the couch and kept me from getting too far down the rabbit hole of self doubt and loathing.

I cried some more this weekend, and I felt terrible, and I felt loved even though I struggle. I feel a little hollow right now, but balanced somehow too. I’ll be back in the studio tomorrow, with work progress pics to share this week.

Hug your loved ones tight,

SJ

Progress, March 24

I’m in the home stretch on the Survey Series (I think that’s its name, for now) as I have finished both Ally and Carly’s portraits and started on C.L.’s and Jon’s.  Working came in fits and bursts this week, interspersed with cosplay crafting and spring cleaning. I spent time working at my studio downtown and at home, so I slogged bags of art supplies back and forth all week.  I accidentally left one of the portraits at work one day, but my boss didn’t seem to notice or mind. It’s still somewhat baffling that my boss is so supportive of me bringing in projects to work on in my free time in the office, but I love it.  I made progress on both portrait projects and cosplay projects this week while at work! I hit a few snags, but had a few really good breakthroughs, materials-wise. 

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I found a double-sided adhesive that is specifically meant for craft foam (thanks Beck Leather & Crafts!) for Ally, and it seems to work great on the transparencies as well. I am so pleased with how her portrait turned out.  It definitely falls in the analogous color category and Ally seemed very happy with it when I showed her (the colors match her hair, at least until Tuesday) the finished piece.  I added in some more blues and blacks, painted in some stars and more hexagons in the background before I added the foam, then her.  I like to think that she’s definitely a part of the piece, sharing elements with the background, but hierarchy of dimension relays that she’s definitely more than just background. The only thing I have to add is on the edges, I’m writing out Ally’s name in binary code.  I found out this week that Ally knows how to code and program and do all sorts of things I haven’t the faintest clue how to do with computers. I knew her background in biology, natural sciences, and astronomy, but this added to how smart she is and how little she professes it. I love learning new and amazing things about how rad my friends are.

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It doesn’t show up well in photos (of course not, none of this series photographs well) but I got to use my new paint on Ally’s and Carly’s portraits!  I was very excited to use it in both of their pieces for differing reasons.  In Ally’s, I wanted my Blackest Black 2.0 to represent black holes and the number of things we still have to be curious about.  For Carly, I wanted supreme darkness, no reflection.  Carly is one of the most interesting people I have ever met.  I think it took some time for her to warm up to all of us (we are a rowdy, loving, weird framily) but she’s become a part of it and has been opening up to all of us.  She has a fondness for all things macabre, a little twisted, and spooky.  If it’s weird, occulty, or serial killers, we can talk for ages and I learn so much from her. I wanted to include how she came into my life, through D&D, so I included 7 hexagons, the silhouette of a d20.  The background, if you notice, is a beautiful art nouveau pattern of mushrooms.  I initially chose it for black and white, but then I realized it was mushrooms, which grow best from decomposing life.  I immediately though Carly would love that concept.  After I had her drawn onto the background I froze.  I wasn’t sure how to proceed- my advisers liked the idea of leaving it as is, but it wasn’t a complete portrait of Carly yet.  I added some transparent color to help break her away from the pattern, and then kept adding small layers of gold or violet interference.  I finally began adding the Black 2.0, painting in darkness that she embraces, and drawing in sigils that resonate in her life.  Each of the hexagons also contains a symbol, a sigil, a sign, of the parts of Carly I get to see, that I love.  I wanted people to see that she’s very open, very light, despite dark things she has survived.  She glows, she shines, in a dull world, and I am glad she’s a part of my world. 

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I also started on C.L., and I think I’m going to be playing with physical depth with her piece, to create layers of light, transparency, opacity, and vibrancy.  C.L. gave me very few directions beyond using the color purple, so get ready for all the purples, aubergines, violets, and fuchsias.  I’m still mentally mapping out Jon’s portrait, but I’ve got it ready to go. 

We had a crafting night last night, working on our Rat Queens, and we got a surprising amount finished.  We’ll be meeting again Tuesday night to bang out as much as we can.  I’ll have pics of new props and such next week!

See you then,

SJ

Progress, March 17

I hope your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have gone well! I celebrated last night with Anarchy Girls Cosplay as we took over the Union Tavern for THUNDERDOME! We had an amazing night with fellow cosplayers, wastelanders, and revelers. Not only did I get to debut the updated Carnage, I got to help style a few friends’ costumes and makeup for the event. Today, my feet are very upset at me for copious amounts of dancing, shenanigans with mutant cars, and breaking out of cages. I needed a great night out with friends. I spent most of the past few weeks working on my research paper rough draft and portraits of my friends (still not sure what to call that series, the Survey Series?…) and letting loose as Carnage felt like a reward for hard work.

Mischief, Carnage, and Dr. Zeus, flirting with the end of the world. Cry Baby brought his car Razor Nova, and some of our Wastelanders brought the gift of fire! Photos courtesy of CG Photography and Raymond Jesse Schluter.

Mischief, Carnage, and Dr. Zeus, flirting with the end of the world. Cry Baby brought his car Razor Nova, and some of our Wastelanders brought the gift of fire! Photos courtesy of CG Photography and Raymond Jesse Schluter.

I didn’t get as much progress on portraits this week as I had hoped. I got called in to work unexpectedly and had to rearrange my schedule a bit. I am nearly finished with Ally’s portrait; I just have to find an adhesive that works well with foam and the paint for the middle layer. Making progress on Carly’s, slowly but surely. I got a fantastic map to use as the base layer for the portrait of Jon, who is the only person who asked for high levels of abstraction in his survey, so this will be a deviation from the physical recognizability. I want to get the last three portraits going before the 1st, when I get feedback back on my rough draft.

Sorry that there isn’t much more progress to report on, so check back next week! I’m going to go soak my feet and eat something green.

Cheers!

SJ

MCP503 Draft Paper


The Relationships Between Artist and Model and Work

The following research examines the relationship between Model and Artist, a dynamic that has changed and shifted with each new artist and model. I focused my attention on the ways the relationship affects the final artwork, the effect on the process of creating a piece, and how much of each participant is visible in the final work. Through examining the recorded connections between past artists and models, as well as my own studio research, I will document how artists are influenced by their models and the relationships with them and how the final artwork captures those associations.

The way our personal biases, experiences, social structures, and communications shape our interactions with one another creates a lens through which we perceive each other. This filter can be very strong if an artist has a current or direct connection with their model and will impact the final image. Because of this, I worked with models who were acquaintances and friends, myself through self-portraits, as well as strangers, to compare the undercurrents and the connection between model and artist.

Part of my studio research involves giving my models a stronger role in the partnership of creation, allowing them to make choices in how they are depicted, which will hopefully allow me to capture more of their essence, their persona on my panel. I do not want to completely remove myself from the process or the final work, but in some works, I endeavored to limit the level of my individual aesthetic that may cloud the persona of my models. In others I let my perception of the model take over.

This paper aims to give shape and voice to the model and their contributions to artists, to highlight the power dynamics present, and to investigate the ways the model/artist relationship changes the art produced.

The relationship between model and artist can have a profound effect on the artwork generated from the sessions spent together. The artworks describe the form as well as the presence of the model, which in turn gives shape to the connection the model shared with the artist. There is a balance of responsibility and dependency between the two, which has historically been skewed in the artist’s favor. My questions are: Can the artist give more voice to their models, relinquishing choices, allowing for the model to have a more participatory role? Is this visible in a work of art? How much of the relationship is present in the final work, and does that make each portrait, in part, a self-portrait of the artist?

First, we need to examine some of the traditional arrangements between the model and artist. There will always be some level of association, whether it is professional or personal, between the model and artist. Models were either the subject of the artwork or a placeholder, depending on what the artist projected on to them in the work. Very often little was known about a model, even though their face/body/likeness was preserved in the work of the artist. Even though there is a partnership needed in the creation of a work of art, between the model and the artist, the artist rarely credits the model. The partnership can extend beyond the studio into personal life via friendship, romantic relations, or acquaintanceship (Oakley).

Figure models were often thought of as barely above prostitutes in the 1800’s, regardless of their relationships outside of the studio, just a person to pay for the use of their body. The model was there as a physical object for the artist to capture the light, the form, detached from personal life. Howard Oakley brings this up when referencing Joanna Hiffernan, an Irish woman who transcended the professional role to become a companion to multiple artists. She appears in paintings by both James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Gustave Courbet and was a lover to both. In some of their works, she is named in the titles where other works she takes on the mantle of the mannequin, standing in for fictitious characters (Oakley). It presents the question of whether she would have been named had she not had such close relationships with the artists? She became a part of their personal lives, attached to more than just the canvases she graced.

As an artist, I am more interested in painting the people around me, my friends, family, and acquaintances as they are rather than using them as stand ins for specific poses. They inspire me and encourage me. I will admit that there must be some attraction, but for me it is rarely sexual. Gilbert J. Rose examines the ambiguity of the model/artist pairing, noting that often the act of posing for a painting is a way to sanction a relationship between a model and the artist, but that artists such as Picasso and Henri Matisse saw themselves as the most important element, and that the model was simply a “trampoline” off of which they could bounce themselves (Rose). Since my models are primarily from my daily life, I feel like I humanize them more; I am not looking for what I can get out of them, but rather a way to give back to the important individuals in my life.

One of most significant pieces I set out to create, that was not a self-portrait, was of a dear friend who agreed to sit for a session. The original concept had a beautiful, detailed, and vibrant design. I had a great plan to use drawing, collage, and tar gel, but I could not make it work. The painting fought me as soon as I started drawing on the panel and kept fighting me until I took a step back. I realized the concept was too busy for my minimalist friend, that I was projecting on Jo because we had a history, a past relationship that my brain was trying to push the entire history of on to her portrait. She was becoming a placeholder and not a subject, until I scaled down what I saw as my influence on her esthetic. I felt like our friendship and my excitement was obscuring her persona in my original rough draft, like there was too much of me accounted for in the image. This led me to the question of what percentage of me and what percentage of her was in the first piece of Jo versus the final painting?

I wanted to show Joanna as she is, without my influence diminishing her essence in the painting. An article in The International Journal of Psychoanalysis recounts a panel discussion on the relationship’s artists have with their models, and not just the humans in front of them but the mental models as well. Harold and Elsa Blum bring up how Pablo Picasso painted his “’family’ of friends” into his work, but that he also superimposed his own symbolic costuming, creating self-portraits of the figures included in Family of Saltimbanques (1). Not only does he remove their essence in this way, leaving only their resemblance, but he uses other elements to reinforce his superiority in the group, reminding the viewer (or himself, or them?) that he is the most important element to the dynamic (Miller, J. David & Gilbert J. Rose (2005).

I wanted to know how the relationships of artists and models may affect the final artworks generated from their time together. One of the most well-known figure painters is Picasso. Much has been written about his tumultuous affairs, marriages, and unions with almost all his female models. His relationship with surrealist artist Dora Maar led to some of his most iconic paintings, including Dora Maar au Chat (2), and the relationship they shared is evident in the way her portrayed her. Their turbulent time together is detailed in the way he has taken her apart and remade her. The sharp angles and distinct lines that dismantle her body, reconstructing her broken form, feel violent. Even the color on her arms is set in separate, unblended sections, further splitting her to pieces. The only place on her we see a softening is in the color on her rearranged face. She is so large in an imposing chair, filling the space of the room floor to ceiling, side to side. He painted her as a person who filled the space of a room which may seem flattering or may seem domineering, and her claw-like fingernails are a clue to her fierceness. I also found it interesting that the cat suffers no fragmentation, just basic flattening and scale reduction. This kitten does not seem to have hurt Picasso as much as Maar.

In the article, “Pablo Picasso: Women are Either Goddesses or Doormats,” Mark Hudson details the many models with which the artist engaged in affairs, relationships, and even marriage. Picasso would even see multiple women at the same time, sometimes pitting them against each other. The models were used up, drained of what he could extract from their lives, then discarded for the next woman. He also notes on the mental health of Picasso’s models, after their relationship had ended, and it is not a comforting idea that many of his models struggled with depression, isolation, or other issues after parting company with the artist.

It seems curious then, that in his late life he met a young woman whom he could not conquer. Sylvette came to his attention in the spring of 1954, with multiple drawings and paintings coming from their modeling sessions, often portraying her with her high ponytail. The care and delicacy of the linework, the gentleness in her fragmentation for his cubist works seems almost reverential to me (3). Some critics write off the work from this era as less emotional, but I like the idea that Picasso could still create beautiful, moving work, without having to sleep with the model, without destroying another human being (Sooke). They had very different relationships which I feel is obvious in the ways he portrayed the two distinct women.

In my readings I came across an article from Grace Glueck where she proposes that many of her contemporary artists (the 1980’s) choose to work from professional models to eliminate “the complex psychological, emotional and sexual overtones of such relationships” that arise from working with close friends, relatives, or lovers. She too comments on the way Picasso worked his way through lovers as models, and that his catalog is virtually a documentation of his conquests. His associations with his models were almost always intimate, where many artists prefer to keep a professional distance. She notes that some artists still prefer the familiarity of working with known models, often documenting their growth and changes, both physically and emotionally, across a span of works.

This left me to wonder about how these varying levels of intimacy could affect the final work, or how that relationship may be evident in the portrayal of the model. “The Artist’s Model” details the way the dynamic between the two can shift. It demonstrates how the artist can make visible emotions, and how they can manipulate the medium to make an image that is both representational of an individual while at the same time creating a foreign entity (Gordon). My models are all people close to me, persons with whom I share a close connection. I am constantly learning about them and the ways we connect as I create around them. Even when I paint myself, it helps me to articulate my emotional state, my thoughts, and my ideas. I can explore my relationship with myself, or my relationship with my model through the work. I have always worked with models that I knew on some level, even in my undergraduate studies, people with which I shared connections.

Because of this familiarity, I was curious to see if my artwork looked different, if it felt different from my usual style if I used a model who was a complete stranger to me. There was no personal relationship, no shared history to influence how I saw the model or to color my perception of them. I put out a call for individuals willing to be a part of my research and who I had never met before. That was how I came to know Anna. We had a connection through a mutual friend, and she agreed to pose for me as well as answer questions about the process from her point of view.

I encouraged Anna to pose however she felt most at ease, and at the level of nudity with which she was comfortable; I wanted this to be a positive experience for each of us. She asked to have conversations while I worked, rather than a silent session. This presented a challenge as she moved while we talked, becoming very animated at various spots in the exchange. It gave me more insight into her mannerisms, her expressions, and her personality. Even though we began as strangers, our familiarity grew into an acquaintanceship, then a friendship, with both of us becoming more relaxed in each session. We had conversations about large and small things, and I began to see our relationship evolve. As I would paint, Anna would comment on the colors, the way I used the various materials, and we began to share ideas.

I had begun a large painting of Anna from our first sitting, combined with a few notes she gave me as a part of a questionnaire. I had asked for simple symbols to include in a work that would be self-described, without my filter on her persona. I worked on this larger piece concurrently with our smaller sessions from life, and I was amazed to see how it evolved as we began to be better acquainted. There was an issue that kept coming up in my studio research- how do I create a work that has less of my own schema filtered on to that of my model? I still saw some of my perception of her personality filtering in, and I wanted to lessen my influence to give Anna a portrait that was wholly her.

I also realized how dependent the artist is on the model when it comes to creating. If the model is late, or does not show, the work cannot progress. There were times our schedules did not match up and we would go weeks without getting to work together. In her blog post “The Relationship Between Artist and Model,” for the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Ellen Altfest remarked, “It might seem like the artist has all the power in the artist model relationship, but the model has a real power, and that is the power to leave.” Unless a portrait artist works solely from photographs or in self-portraits, this is one of the greatest powers a model has over the artist. I feel that I want to give more emphasis, more voice to my models; I want to hear their side of the story, share the power with them.

Some artists involve their models to higher degrees than others. Maynard Dixon became friends with his model George Whitewing, eventually collaborating on other projects, becoming equal creative contributors (Winther). Dixon’s poem “Interpreter” conveys the idea that the artist is interpreting a living moment, an idea, and capturing it, where as the model is doing their best to interpret the intent, the drive or need of the artist, to feed it back to them. Alberto Giacometti exemplified this, believing that his models were active participants in the process. James Lord shared his account of being painted by Giacometti, who actively sought his model’s opinion and input (Lord). It is fascinating to see an extended account of a sitting from the model’s perspective, as we often only see the finished artwork, with some blurb from the artist.

Another account of a sitting with a famous portrait artist comes from Mary D. Garrard, when she commissioned, with her mother, a portrait by Alice Neel (4). Garrard offers a keen take on the proclivities of the artist, the way she was able to pull out truths from her models to embed in the paint, the way she liked to catch them off guard. Garrard recounts how Neel insisted on painting her just as she was when she walked into the studio. It was a choice she made, as the artist, on how best to capture the persona of Garrard on a canvas. The pose, the androgyny, the flattening of color are all characteristics familiar in Neel’s portraits, the choices she made as the artist to convey who her model was. Her choices, not the model’s- her influence, her presence is in the work, a filter on the model. I wondered if I could limit my choices, allowing for more of the models’ essence, their persona to shine through my work.

I began, with the help of my advisers, to relinquish some of my choices to my models. I let Anna decide how to pose, what level of nudity she was comfortable with, etc. I made the choices on the canvas, she made the choices of the form. But I wanted to go further. I wanted to explore what would happen if I gave my models the chance to make the majority of the choices for their portraits, and what that might do to the resulting work. Could I limit my presence in a work, to get an unfiltered depiction of my models? I asked for a group of friends to be a part of this experiment, giving them a survey on what they would want to see, how they would want to be painted by me.

I gave my models the decisions on materials, style, even the pose and framing of the portrait. My goal was to give them as many choices as possible to capture a more complete version of them. Most of the eight participants gave some of the choices back to me, one gave almost all the decision-making power back to me, and one was very determined in what he wanted to see me create. Lou gave me very minimal direction; she wanted a close-up portrait with bright colors and elements of collage. At first, I was a little dismayed that she did not have more preferences, but she assured me that she trusted me to make something beautiful that displayed our friendship (5). On the opposite end, Ian was very specific in the way he wanted to see himself portrayed, with an emphasis on what I liked about him.

I struggled with his portrait. His choices eliminated most of my standard art-making avenues, and I did not know how to complete the work to his satisfaction without my usual tools at my disposal (6). My vibrant, emotional colors, my abstractions and exaggerations were gone. I was left with a portrait that feels less solid than the others, less representative of how I actually feel about Ian. In comparing the emotion of Lou’s portrait and Ian’s, I think I limited myself too much- I took too much of myself out of his portrait that it feels less dimensional than the other works in the experiment. In trying to limit myself, I limited the amount of our relationship that could show in the painting.

This realization reinforced my idea that all portraits a type of self-portrait, in that we are capturing our relationship with the model in the way we paint them. This also made me recognize that my goal of eliminating the artist’s presence in a piece is counterproductive to creating emotionally resonant work. We can try to lessen the percentage of our essence in a piece, but it removing it completely takes some of the strength of the portrayal away. While I had to remove some of my aesthetic from my piece of Joanna, I still wanted to convey my love and appreciation for her.  I can reign in my ideas, so I don’t smother the presence of my model without taking away the richness our relationship gives the artwork.

The relationship between model and artist can have a profound effect on the artwork generated from the sessions spent together. Being aware of they type of relationship you have with your model allows you to manage how that is portrayed in your work. As artists, we are responsible for recognizing how our models influence our creative processes and giving them credit for how they contribute to the progression and completion of our work.  We have the ability to capture our connections and preserve them, honoring their vital role in our artistry.

 

1.     Family of Saltimbanques, Pablo Picasso, Oil on Canvas, 1905

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2.     Dora Maar au Chat, Pablo Picasso, Oil on Canvas, 1941

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3.     Portrait de Sylvette David 21, Pablo Picasso, Oil on Canvas, 1954

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4.     Mary D. Garrard 1977, Alice Neel, 1977

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5.     Lou, Sarah Jane Eaton, Mixed Media on Panel, 2019

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6.     Ian, Sarah Jane Eaton, Acrylic and Ink on Panel, 2019

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Progress, March 10

I detest Daylight Saving Time.  Not only did I stay up a little too late last night celebrating Christie’s birthday, which was a blast, but then the clock jumped forward an hour and now I’m exhausted.  I have been fighting being sick this week, as Ian has been recovering, so I feel like my battery hasn’t been at a full charge for the past 8 or 9 days.  I have been plugging along though and working on my research paper and my portraits. 

I celebrated International Women’s Day by working on the portraits of Christie, Ally, and Carly.  Three women I feel privileged to have in my life, three women who are intelligent, caring, nerdy, and supportive.  They were there for me when my dad died, letting me cry on them and somehow making me smile.  They were there to celebrate when I was accepted to Transart, cheering me on and encouraging my work.  These women were so excited to be a part of this project and their excitement grows with each portrait I finish.  I’ve found a few commonalities that are popping up in each work, especially since I have been working on multiple portraits simultaneously. 

This week I finished the portrait of Christie. She was the outlier of the survey in that she wanted her portrait to be full bodied and to make her as small as I felt comfortable doing.  She was also the most communicative on what she wanted to see in the piece while still giving much of the decision making over to me.  She specifically asked for some sort of a pour to be incorporated in to her portrait, along with some other unique materials. There was also the request of incorporating symbols of duality, anxiety, geekiness, the Manicured Barbarian, and vibrant colors. She asked me to be bold, and she wanted to see me shining through this work. 

That was significant to me, as it’s very relevant to my research right now.  She wanted our relationship, my version of it, to show in the work even though she was aware it was something I have been trying to minimalize. I started with the pour, as it was requested and something my friends associate with my artwork.  I used colors of the night sky, the setting sun, and metallics, to create a dark base, and then used right colors, metallics paint and stickers, and tar gel with iridescent paint to bring some light back into her. Christie’s halo is a deep dark indigo, but with a golden ring containing it.  We both struggle with anxiety, but we’ve found ways to help lessen the intensity, and have found the “silver lining” in being able to discuss it freely.  This piece is so shiny, so shimmery, that contrasts with the simple black and white cutout of her. I see her as someone who keeps fighting, even when her brain is being mean to her, even when it’s exhausting.  She throws her energy into the things that maker her happy, that keep her going instead of letting the darkness take over.  In a black and white world, she brings color.   

Finished portrait on the left, in progress on the right.  It’s hard to tell in the photo, but the tar gel give a textured element to the piece.

Finished portrait on the left, in progress on the right. It’s hard to tell in the photo, but the tar gel give a textured element to the piece.

She got to see the finished product today (it was still drying last night so I couldn’t take it to her birthday party) and she was so happy it almost made me cry.  She recognized the Byzantine influences, the use of gold, the D20’s, our Symbol of the Twelve.  It relieved some of my anxiety of whether she would like how it turned out. I’m a very lucky girl that my friends are both willing to be a part of my art and that they truly seem to like my style.

In other works, I have the background finished for Ally.  I created a collage of hexagons and circles to mimic molecular structures then printed it onto a transparency.  Ally asked for purples, blues, and greys to be incorporated into her piece, so I dripped some red, grey, blue, and purple paint and ink onto the wet mod podge on the panel.  I brushed it around a bit, and then put the transparency on top.  The effect became a galaxy, with the boys trying to convince me to sell it to them as-is.  It was nice to see such a positive reaction to just the background.  Ally saw it and loved it.  She even commissioned me to make larger version, when the series is finished, for her home.  I began painting her, on a separate transparency, that I’m going to stack so she becomes a 3D extension of the work. 

Full background on the left, detail photo on the right.

Full background on the left, detail photo on the right.

I’m still waiting on the last bit of paint for her and the piece of Carly.  It was supposed to be here Wednesday but was delayed till tomorrow, hopefully.  I can’t wait to use it.  Okay, time to clean up my space, and get back to the research paper.

Till next week,

SJ

Progress, March 3

It’s been another week full of writing, drawing, painting, and friends.  And sickness- Casa Catto has had a bug that all of our friends have had to one degree or another this past week.  Of course, we still met up for various activities, but then it hit Ian like a Mack truck.  He’s been down since Thursday but I’ve been too busy to be sick; I’m hoping it doesn’t catch up with me.

I got to work on portraits this week, as well as some writing for my research paper.  I’ve been collecting references for the additions to the pieces for Carly, Christie, and Ally, as all 3 of these will have elements of collage included in their piece.  I found some fantastic wrapping papers from the Met that went into Carly’s portrait.  It’s going to get some paint this week and some more layers.  We celebrated Carly’s birthday in a manner true to her soul- we put on our best goth gear and drank fancy cocktails, listened to the most eclectic playlist, and tried to stay out of the snow.  We celebrated her life, our friendship, and the absurdity of world.  I love that Carly embraces her dark side, unabashedly, without falling into the stereotype of being morose.  She is so intelligent, funny, and genuine.  I always feel loved with Carly, and I hope I can depict that mutual love in her portrait. 

carlyprogress.jpg

This week I’ll be working on Ally and Christie.  Ally’s piece will have some digital collage happening, some manipulations, that I will then print and paint on top of for her piece.  I think her piece is going to end up more matte, less glossy than the others, because of the paint she convinced me to order.  You’ll have to wait and see!

I also finished (I think) my portrait of Ian.  He asked me for something either in black and white or in natural colors, so I went with the black and white to fit into my self-imposed time constraints.  I actually used a base grid to get as accurate a scale as possible, since Ian also asked for a very realistic portrait. Working on this was somewhat difficult, because he asked me to show him what I love about him in a portrait.  I really struggled with this, as my usual artistic mediums of expression (bright colors, collage, abstraction) were things he asked me to avoid. 

I thought about it as I was drawing him out in pencil.  How do I communicate through this image what I love about him?  I love him.  The way he smiles at me.  That he speaks “Sarah” and knows what I mean, what I’m trying to say, sometimes without words.  I love how supportive he is with work, school, and friends.  I love the way he loves me.  He’s a light for me in my depressive times, and my motivator when I need a boost.  He is endlessly curious and always eager to learn.  He listens to me talk about art and my research, my process, and he doesn’t understand it all but still manages to ask intelligent questions.  I don’t love the things he wears, the background, I love him- so I put more detail, more time, and more effort in him, not his clothes, not the chair, not the wall.  I also attempted to not overcomplicate the work. 

I wasn’t sure if I was finished with it, but he saw it and loved it.  He giggled and stared for a bit.  Ian said it was weird to see himself through someone else’s eyes, and it was a little disorienting.  Then I got a giant hug and kiss, so I think it’s finished?

Iantrio.jpg

I also did some cosplay-ish fun this weekend.  My fellow Anarchy Girl, Kapi, our friend Jonathon from CrowCawFX (https://crowcawfx.com/), and Susan, aka Zeus, got to let out our devilish sides.  Jonathon did a fantastic job painting all of us into devils for the Lords of Acid concert, where we absolutely danced our pointy little tails off for hours.  I may get to collaborate with Jonathon on a future project, so cross some fingers for us!

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Till next time,

SJ

Progress, February 24

I spent time this week working on my portraits of friends; I started two and complete one. I started with one that the model made the fewest choices, giving me license to make more decisions and have more of an influence in her portrayal.  Lou is someone new to my life, as in we’ve been friends since late 2017, but has quickly become a fixture in my everyday life. 

Lou is a unicorn.  She is glitter and rainbows.  She is snark, puns, and witty retorts.  She is a fellow “mom-friend.”  She is soldiering on in spite of adversity, smiling through trials, and bright and dark at the same time.  She aggressive friendships, and then loves you with nerdy exuberance.  I’m a better person for having her in my life.  I knew right away I wanted to utilize collage in her portrait, because so much of how I know Lou is a collage.  There are all of these bits, information, and experiences that may not seem to fit, but they synthesize together to create this wonderful woman.  I also wanted to play with blatant transparency and opacity, because Lou will tell you exactly how she feels and why, but can keep up walls till she feels safe. 

I started with glitter card stock and a rainbow of paint chips, as well as a photo from our shoot.  I then began drawing the photograph on the transparency, and then painting in small areas with opaque paint markers.  I collaged a few different layers of transparencies, with thin ink adding layers of color.  Then I started adding some of the more random bits (stickers, rainbow window cling, metallic tempera sticks), all that relate back to the model. 

I hated it.  It felt cluttered.  It felt kitschy.  It didn’t seem to do her justice, and I was afraid she would hate it, so I kept working.  I pulled a few things off the panel, layered some more inks down to tone some areas, and added some more transparent layers.  It started to feel better.  I added iridescent paint, because Lou leaves glitter or highlighter just about everywhere, like butterfly wings or fairy dust.  It felt appropriate, and the very matte, very opaque corners seemed to tame a bit of the shiny, so it was less overwhelming. 

I finally felt it was finished, and sent a picture of the finished piece to her.  I was nervous, but she loved it.  I think this piece shows a sliver of our relationship, my adoration for a dear friend, her vibrancy, and how we connected with our love for color. 

Lou , Collage and mixed media on panel, 9x12”

Lou, Collage and mixed media on panel, 9x12”

I also started two other pieces that will be vastly different in style and approach.  The first is a drawing that may turn into a painting of my partner, Ian.  He wants to see something very realistic, either in black/white/greyscale or natural colors.  The second is Christie, my intelligent, beautiful, nerdy, punk rocker.  One of my Casa Catto gang, she is one of the girls I never thought I would be cool enough to befriend.  She had the most to say when filling out her survey, giving me back many of the choices while at the same time making some very specific requests.  Her background is a pour, so this will have some elements of collage along with painting and my poured portraits.  I’m excited to work on both of these this coming week.

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One of the reasons my life is great is my friends. We support and love each other, stepping in when we know someone needs us. This week, I brought a friend in to the studio for some art therapy. She loved my pours so we had a day where I explained the process, then we each made a few pours. It was a huge mess, but helped clean some sads and lonelies from our hearts.

pourssupdate.jpg

I also managed to get some cosplay goodies happening.  A member of the Chaos Squad, Kirk took some shots of my Carnage!  She turned out as kooky, crazy, and lost as I imagined her to be.  I also made progress on my Betty from the Rat Queens, painting the elements for her belt and cloak and working on her daggers.  We have all picked out our fabrics for the Rococo Disney princesses, now we just need something stiff to drink to ease the pain of the price when we order it.  I have almost all the elements now, we just have to begin putting them together in such a way as we create something beautiful.

cosplayupdate.jpg

Till next week,

SJ

Rough, Rough Draft

Well, here’s what I have so far for my research paper. This week was spent mostly working on this, with a few fun studio moments. I’ll post that update on Sunday. For now, here is what I have so far, working towards my final paper for this year…

2-3 practitioners, ½ page each, focus on 1-2 works per artist

When it comes to researching artists and the relationships they have with their models, no one comes up more than Pablo Picasso.  He had tumultuous affairs, marriages, and unions with almost all his female models.  His relationship with surrealist artist Dora Maar led to some of his most iconic paintings, including Dora Maar au Chat.  What initially drew me to this was the inclusion of the cat, if I’m perfectly honest, but then I really paid attention to the way he depicted Dora.  There are so many sharp angles, definite lines that dismantle her body, reconstructing her broken form.  Even the color on her arms is set in separate, unblended sections, further sectioning her to pieces.  The only place on her we see a softening is in the color on her rearranged face.  The fauve tendencies here are what kept me interested in this piece, where her face feels less hostile than her body.  She’s so large in an imposing chair, filling the space of the room floor to ceiling, side to side.  He painted her as a person who filled the space of a room which may seem flattering, but her claw-like fingernails are a clue to her fierceness.  I also found it interesting that the cat suffers no fragmentation, just basic flattening and scale reduction.  This kitten doesn’t seem to have hurt Picasso as much as Maar.  I can’t decide if he truly felt he needed to dismantle his models both figuratively and literally to create such resonant work, but nearly all his models who had romantic or sexual relationships with him were somewhat broken when they were parted from him.

With few exceptions, he romanced all of his models, or at least attempted to do so.  Sylvette David was one of those few women who never succumbed to the artist’s charms, or perhaps he didn’t pursue her as fervently as his other models.  His painting, Sylvette, 1954, has many of the same sharp lines and bold colors as Dora Maar au Chat but without the underlying anger.  There is some fragmentation happening in the body, less in the face, and some changes in natural scale; the abstractions seem less violent.  We see Sylvette seated in profile, with her trademark ponytail, done in black and white with splashes of cerulean, navy, and green on her figure.  I wonder if Picasso saw Sylvette as more or less of a person, because he did not have a romantic relationship with her, and how that seems to shine through in his works with her.  The background, which is a flat wall with hints of yellow and teal, doesn’t feel as much like a cage as the room in which he put Dora Maar.  I rarely do much with the background, but I think I may have to give it more attention as to how it can frame my model and our own relationships.

The first thing I notice when looking at Mary D. Garrard 1977 is the intense gaze of the sitter, with a curious expression, as if they are waiting on an answer to a question just asked.  Neel was able to capture a level of emotion over the course of 4 sittings with Garrard, who commissioned the portrait with her mother.  Garrard recounts how Neel insisted on painting her just as she was when she walked into the studio.   It was a choice she made, as the artist, on how best to capture the persona of Garrard on a canvas.  The pose, the androgyny, the flattening of color are all characteristics familiar in Neel’s portraits, as is the striped chair seen in many works.  Neel chose to paint her model with all of her cold weather gear on, and I wonder if it offers protection from the cold (like I have done with Anna) or protection from the viewer?  If it wasn’t cold in her studio, how uncomfortable did the make Garrard? I find myself concerned with the physical well-being of my models but and this makes me cringe a bit.  Maybe what Neel wanted?  I enjoy the varying levels of “completion” in this portrait, with the more finished parts drawing the eye, relaying their importance over the less detailed areas. 

I also see the same treatment in her piece Nancy Selvage, but in greater severity.  We see the model outlined in solid black strokes, giving shape to a body that isn’t quite filled in with color.  In fact, her body, arms and hands are barely gestures, no detail or form really given.  In comparison with the strong detail and focus on Garrard’s hands, Selvage’s seem to melt off her arms like candle wax.  They both have an intense gaze, looking back at the viewer, but Selvage seems more melancholy, less present in the moment than Garrard.  Did that contribute to the level of “finished” Neel created?  Did the relationship present itself in these images?  I love the use of color in each work, the subtle elements of fauvism in the yellow patch on a hand or the plum red shadow under and eye.  I want to bring Neel’s skill at capturing emotion into my work, and her ability to see when a work was complete, even if it isn’t “finished.”

 

Annotated bliography

·       Altfest, Ellen. “The Relationship Between Artist and Model,” Irish Museum of Modern Art Blog, 16 Aug. 2017, https://immablog.org/2017/08/16/the-relationship-between-artist-and-model-a-blog-by-renowned-american-painter-ellen-altfest/. Accessed Jan. 2019.

o   In this blog post, Ellen Altfest refers to many of the model/artist relationship issues or questions that arise when talking about the subject.  She brings up how common it was (or is) for male artists to sleep with their models, which can cause a serious shift in the relationship or end it altogether. Altfest brings up how much power the model has over the artist, because they have to be a willing participant in the process.  They always have the power to quit, to leave, to abandon.  The artist can be dependent on their presence, their body, even their mood for the piece to come to fruition.  In those instances, they have the upper hand in deciding when to work. 

·       Borzello, Frances. Seeing Ourselves: Womens Self-Portraits. Thames & Hudson, 2018.

o   I have been slowly working my way through this book since the beginning of the school year.  Borzello share insight into the practice of self portraits and what that has meant, what they were allowed to mean, over the ages.  Being able to describe ourselves, to reveal our own truths in our own ways and languages, both as a woman and as an artist, is incredibly powerful.  To do so in a self portrait is an intimate, telling way to communicate visually.  We see the history of the female artist alongside the history of those artists painting themselves, the slow and steady progression to being taken seriously as artists and humans.   

·       Garrard, Mary D. “Alice Neel and Me.” Woman's Art Journal, vol. 27, no. 2, 2006, pp. 3–7. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/20358083.

o   The model is able to give us her side of the story, from when she posed for a portrait by Alice Neel in 1977.  This has great insight to Neel’s studio practices, her interactions with her models, the levels of tension in their sessions.  Garrard offers a keen take on the proclivities of the artist, the way she was able to pull out truths from her models to embed in the paint, the way she liked to catch them off guard.  The author also explores how Neel redefined feminism, being a female artist, and the way we see nude portraiture, where women were allowed to be nude without being solely objects for the male gaze.

·       Glueck, Grace. “Artist and Model: Why the Tradition Endures.” The New York Times Archives, 8 June 1986, https://www.nytimes.com/1986/06/08/arts/artist-and-model-why-the-tradition-endures.html. Accessed Jan. 2019.

o   A summary on the transition from partner/lover models to professional models and the evolving relationships that artists create and maintain with the models.  Some artists completely remove the personal element, instead focusing purely on the form presented, preserving a “professional distance,” while some still rely on friends and family, spouses, to model.  Most of these still see their models as separate, not participating, even though they are present in the process of creation.  Few see their models as “collaborators” but that is precisely part of what I am doing in my studio.  Collaborating with my models to create works that more fully embody them as a person, captured in a work of art.

·       Gordon, Mary. “The Artist's Model.” The Yale Review, 21 Dec. 2017, 106: 160-169. https://doi-org.plymouth.idm.oclc.org/10.1111/yrev.13325. Accessed Feb 2019. 

o   This is a narrative take on the relationships between the artist and model, but also the model and the artist’s significant others.  These specific pages detail the relationship between two artists, Clara and Dan, and Clara’s model, Marya, who ends the marriage of the former. Clara initially takes Marya in as a model and sort of apprentice, but her much younger husband eventually leaves Clara to be with her model.  Clara eventually asks Marya to finish posing for her, and the dynamic is completely different from their previous sessions. The resulting painting shows the anger and hurt that Clara felt, embodying the negative feelings she now feels for her model.  It demonstrates how the artist can make visible emotions, and how they can manipulate the medium to make an image that is both representational of an individual while at the same time creating a foreign individual. 

·       Hudson, Mark. “Pablo Picasso: Women are Either Goddesses or Doormats.” The Telegraph, 8 April 2016. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/art/artists/pablo-picasso-women-are-either-goddesses-or-doormats/. Accessed Feb. 2019.

o   Let’s just reiterate how much of a horrible man Picasso was to women.  This article does discuss the way the women in his life, his models and muses, had an affect on how he painted and the styles he progressed through.  It gives a bit of history for each of his models that were also his lovers or wives, but it doesn’t mention any of the other models, either non-sexual/romantic partners, or men.  The article also discusses the mental health of his models, after their relationship had ended, and it’s not a comforting idea that many of his models struggled with depression, isolation, or other issues after parting company with the artist.

·       Kleinfelder, Karen L, and Pablo Picasso. The Artist, His Model, Her Image, His Gaze: Picasso’s Pursuit of the Model. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993. Print.

o   Book just arrived.  The author explores the work of the artist in his later life and career; how the artist probed the “possibilities of representation” within the dynamics of the relationship of the artist, the model, and the work.  I have yet to read this as I just received it in the mail.   

·       Lord, James. A Giacometti Portrait (Classic Reprint). Noonday Press, 1997. 

o   I love the inside look, so rarely shared, of a model’s perspective of the relationship between artist and model, while the work is being created.  I feel that this gives the reader a more humanized view of Giacometti, who at his time was already a celebrated artist, but still doubted his craft and talent.  He actively sought the opinion of Lord, asking him often whether or not he should continue the portrait.  This also made me feel exponentially better about imposter’s syndrome and hating my own work at varying stages of progression.  We see how dedicated both the artist and the model were to the final piece, and to the friendship cultivated further in their time together for the work.

·       Miller, J. David & Gilbert J. Rose (2005) “Artist and Model: Psychoanalytic Perspectives.” The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 86:2, 539-541, DOI: 10.1516/PFVP-AF06-F9AH-PMRJ. Accessed Jan. 2019. 

o   Basically, Picasso was a dick.  No, really.  This article is the recounting of a panel discussion on the relationships artists have with their models, and not just the humans in front of them but the objects and the mental models as well.  Harold and Elsa Blum bring up how Picasso painted his “’family’ of friends” into his work, but that he also superimposed his own symbolic costuming, creating self portraits of the figures included in Family of Saltimbanques.  Not only does he remove their essence in this way, leaving only their resemblance, but he uses other elements to reinforce his superiority in the group, reminding the viewer (or himself, or them?) that he is the most important element to the dynamic.  Then the panelists discuss the essence drain of Francis Bacon’s model and lover George Dyer, who killed himself when Bacon was finished with their relationship.  It was inferred that Bacon took everything from him, in a very unbalanced union, to pour into his work. 

·       Oakley, Howard. “It Takes Two: The Model and the Artist.The Eclectic Light Company, 20 Jan. 2018, https://eclecticlight.co/2018/01/20/it-takes-two-the-model-and-the-artist/. Accessed Jan. 2019.

o   This article reviews the fact that very often little was known about a model, even though their face/body/likeness was preserved in the work of the artist.  It refers back to a partnership needed in the creation of a work of art, between the model and the artist, but when completed the artist rarely credits the model.  The partnership can extend beyond the studio into personal life via friendship, romantic relations, or acquaintanceship.  It can be the beginning of these relationships, a part of them or the ending.  The artists listed were rarely painting the model themselves but were using the models as placeholders for other persona or character in the work.  It made me question how that affects the final outcome; painting a person or applying a character to their framework?

·       Postle, Martin. The Artists Model from Etty to Spencer. M. Holberton, 1999.

o   Book ordered, waiting on arrival.

·       Rose, G. J. (2004). “Aesthetic ambiguity revisited via the artist-model pair and neuroscience.” Psychoanalytic Psychology, 21(3), 417-427. doi:http://dx.doi.org.plymouth.idm.oclc.org/10.1037/0736-9735.21.3.417. Accessed Jan. 2019.

o   This writing was helpful in that it analyzes the works of multiple artists and painters, including painting depicted in film, and the relationships with the models and how that then shaped the artwork.  The recurring references to a sexual tension between artist and model are tiring.  NOT EVERY ARTIST WANTS TO SLEEP WITH THEIR MODEL.  I will concede that there is some level of attraction (something made me want to paint them) but it doesn’t always have to come back to sex.

·       Sooke, Alastair. “Culture - Sylvette David: The Woman Who Inspired Picasso.” BBC News, BBC, 21 Oct. 2014, www.bbc.com/culture/story/20140320-im-like-the-mona-lisa.

o   Sooke reviews the artwork, the critiques, and the gossip surrounding Picasso’s relationship with Sylvette David.  I am especially drawn to his work of Sylvette, I believe because the model is more recognizable, according to Christoph Grunenberg, possibly, “…because he didn’t conquer her, he needed to conquer her on canvas and on paper and in sculpture.”  Some critics write off the work from this era as less emotional, but I like the idea that Picasso could still create beautiful, moving work, without having to put his penis in the model, without destroying another human being. 

·       Winther, Barbara. “The Artist and His Model: The Crossing Paths of Maynard Dixon and George Whitewing.” The Western Historical Quarterly, 2018, Vol. 49(3), pp.335-342. Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/whq/why079. Accessed Jan. 2019.

o   This article is an interesting insight into the sometimes chaotic or sporadic relationships between artist and model.  While Dixon and Whitewing began as strangers, they soon developed a friendship and a mutual respect and trust.  It went so far as Dixon consulting with Whitewing about the design and concepts for the work for which he was modeling.  When they reconnected after many years apart, they continued both their artistic relationship and their friendship, which resulted in various other projects.  I think the poem, Interpreter, is very representative of the artist/model relationship.  The artist is interpreting a living movment, an idea, and capturing it, where as the model is doing their best to interpret the intent, the drive or need of the artist, to feed it back to them. 

Outline:

·       Introduction

·       What are my questions? 

o   How does the relationship between the model and the artist affect the outcome of the artwork?  Is there a difference when there is a solid relationship vs. a stranger? 

o   How much of the artist is present in each portrait they paint?  Can an artist give more control to the model, to create work that is more collaboration, with a limited personal filter from the artist? 

·       Why did I want to explore this idea?

o   I work often with self-portraits.  Painting myself helps me to articulate my emotional state, my thoughts, and my ideas.  I can explore my relationship with myself. 

§  Are all portraits somehow also a self-portrait?  Do we capture ourselves in the gaze of the model, in the pose or setting, or in the application of mediums?  Does the relationship between artist and model lend the work to being both self-portrait and portrait at the same time?

o   Joanna’s painting- I had a beautiful and vibrant mental design.  I had a great plan, but I couldn’t make it work.  The painting fought me as soon as I started drawing and kept fighting me until I took a step back.  I realized the concept was too busy for my minimalist friend.  The painting wasn’t working because I was pushing my aesthetic on her, and the back of my brain knew that; the front of my brain took longer to catch on. 

·       How am I exploring this concept, through my research and my practice?

o   My sessions with Anna

§  Painting a stranger, then learning their mannerisms, cadence, and personality. 

§  The relationship dynamic changing, feeling more comfortable around each other

o   Painting my friends, allowing them to make choices about how I paint them

§  By giving them more choices, am I minimizing my essence in the work?  Is it possible to do that without becoming essentially an assistant (style)?

·       Who did I reference?  Who did I paint- strangers, friends, family, lovers?

o   Painting project with closest friends- our relationship is solid.  Will I be more, or less, present in these, and who decides that- how visible am I (or our relationship) in their portraits? 

o   How can our relationships shape the work that I create, and how does my work affect our relationships?

·       Where do I go next? 

o   There are so many questions that arise just as I think I’ve found the answer to the last one. 

o   Expanding the work with my friends/family, exploring our relationships through art and observing the way creating the art and the final piece may impact us.

 

Research Questions

·       How does the relationship between the model and the artist affect the outcome of the piece?  Is it apparent when there is a solid relationship vs. a stranger?

·       How much of the artist is present in each portrait they paint? 

There you have it. Please give me some feedback to further hone my paper.

Progress, February 10

This week has been very heavy with research, with little studio time.  I got my panels primed and a load of collage materials together… and that’s about it.  I put up some privacy window cling film in my studio, so I feel a little less like I’m being sized up by my cats’ in a fish bowl. Of course I didn’t take pictures of any of this… next week.

We added another friend to our Rococo Disney group; we’re up to 5.  I contacted Dan and Bryan at FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention to possibly schedule a panel about our costumes and to present the process documentation I collect, as a part of my performance.  I’m still ironing out the details, but my friends are on board with me filming our work sessions and documenting as much as I can about our ideas, our goals, the struggles and the successes that go into creating a complex cosplay. 

I have read so many weird articles, excerpts, and blogs over the past few weeks, but lots this past week, about the relationship between the artist and model.  Some have given me great ideas, had good insights, and further my understand of my own thoughts.  Others were way off and not helpful, or just not what I needed.  I am STILL waiting on two books I ordered at the end of last month, but I think they will be very beneficial to my research. 

This week was also emotionally high strung.  My friend and model, Lou, had an emergency with her dog, Dallas, when on Wednesday her roommates fed the pupper a bone she should not have had.  There were multiple vet visits, overnight stays, and lots of crying.  We spent most of Friday sitting in a sort of vigil, waiting on the vet to call, berating Lou’s roommates, and talking Rococo plans to distract Lou’s brain.  After days of tears, panic over vet bills (because, wow, dog surgery is expensive), and me threatening to salt the bones of said roommates, Dallas finally came home yesterday.  We weren’t sure she would- the vet wasn’t very confident, so it was such a sigh of relief when the call came Saturday morning that she was going to be okay. 

As soon as our swatches come in we will order the winning fabrics and go shopping for the trims- lace, lining, etc. I will be working in the studio, that is now not a fishbowl, and will have pics for you in my next update.

Till then,

SJ

Progress, February 3

Happy Sunday! 

Here in the States it’s Sportsball Day, so we are having an Anti-Sportsball party at my house.  We plan on playing nerdy games and eating good food together.  This week has been surprisingly full of great time spent with friends and family.  I’ve had multiple out-of-town visitors, breakfast and lunch dates with friends I haven’t seen since last year (ha!), birthday parties, and a girl’s night.  It’s been busy, but so good to start the new month off positively. 

During all of these shenanigans, I got to discuss the upcoming portraits with most of my friends, getting a better idea of what they want to see when I complete their pieces.  I got my panels laid out and ready to prime and begin tomorrow morning.  I am really excited to see the variety they’ve given me to do, from collage, open acrylics, pours, and drawing mediums.  Monday and Tuesday, I plan on starting at least 2 of these in my new studio space…

  I finally got to move into my new studio!!!!  It has two, count ‘em, two! heater vents in the space.  Woot!  It took me a few days to get all my stuff moved up, and Blake, a good friend who will be in the next series (?) helped me get all the heavy bookshelves and table up and in place.  I reorganized some of my paint, got the space set up in a way that makes sense to my brain, and ordered some window clings.  The windows are great, but I feel a bit like I’m in a fishbowl on display.  Francis the Dinosaur doesn’t seem to mind, but he’ll be my buddy in the studio.

BeFunky-collage (8).jpg

In other news, my boss is amazing.  He allows me to work on my research at work, asks about my progress, and is super supportive.  At night, when our office is crickets chirping, I’ve been combing through the library databases, searching for articles and writings on the model/artist relationship.  I’ve got about 4 so far for my outline, but I am still searching for more resources.

BeFunky-collage (7).jpg

For Ariel, we have ordered our fabric swatches, settled on our design ideas, and continued to find the various bits and baubles for the accessories.  I can’t wait to get the samples, so we can get the actual fabric ordered.  We are taking a few hours today after Anti-Sportsball party time to go over our patterns and that we understand the steps involved in the actual sewing.    

I hope your day is great!

Till next week,

SJ

Progress, January 27

Sunday is here but sadly Carnage is not.  While there was loads of planning and hard work going in to get the Thunderdome Ball working, we had to reschedule to March.  It was a last-minute decision made out of necessity after careful consideration.  I didn’t get all the pieces on and photographed for Carnage, but I will show her off as soon as I can.  I’m really pleased with how well all the components came together to create the whole character. 

In other Cosplay news… My friends and I have started the purchasing and planning portions of the Rococo Disney Princesses.  We have bought multiple possible patterns and are now finalizing our base concepts.  Most of us will be using elements from several different patterns or altering the pre-made patterns.  I have four final concepts that I am really pleased with, I just have to find the right combination of concept and pattern for my final choice.  There were certain elements that were common in all of my favorite designs, so I have begun shopping for the material components to include. 

Accents, inspiration, and planning…

Accents, inspiration, and planning…

My Ariel designs are based on her wedding dress, both from the movie and the ride The Little Mermaid- Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, at Disney’s California Adventure.  I want to incorporate lace appliques of seashells and aquatic creatures, pearls everywhere, and copious amounts of lace.  I am bringing in the green and purple of her seashell top and fin in accents, lace, and trim.  If I start now, buying a few items each week, it’s not as much of a shock on the wallet.  We are going to order our swatches for fabric this week, so we can order all of what we need, and have it delivered in an appropriate amount of time.  Stay tuned for final choice drawings and my liver complaining. 

I also wrote and sent out a survey this week, to my friends who have agreed to be a part of my research.  The lovely faces you saw last week all got to answer some questions about the portrait they want to see me create.  I wanted to give as much control/choice as I could to my models, while still retaining some parameters as the artist. 

These friends are all aware that this project is about me as the artist, trying to show as much of the models’ presence and personality as possible, without completely losing my link to both the model and the viewer.  After conversing with my advisers, I’m excited to start painting each of my friends, letting them take more control over their finished portrait.  When putting together the survey I wanted to give them as many choices as I could, but I also gave them the option to give up that control.  I was eager to see how much control they were willing to take when offered the chance.  Some had very strong ideas on what they wanted to see, and others were vaguer. 

1.     Would you prefer your portrait be full body or close?

2.     What materials would you like to be used when I create your portrait? Select all that you want used.

3.     How realistic would you like your portrait?

4.     What colors do you want used? Please select one or two.

5.     Do you have any specific requests for this portrait? Something to include, a specific color emphasized, any notes you want to give?

6.     What are you hoping to see in the finished portrait?

7.     Thank you for helping me with this research project. I am looking at how much control I can relinquish to you, the model, without becoming just the tool or vessel of creation, but still an active participant in the process. By allowing you to make more choices about your portrait, I’m hoping that more of what makes you, “you,” will show through. If you have any ideas, comments, or questions, you can leave them here or message me directly.

8.     May I use your answers from this survey as quotes, citing you directly, or would you prefer anonymity?  I will only use your first name and last initial, unless you specify otherwise. If yo prefer anonymity, I will refer to you as "Model #" with an assigned number for you instead of a name.  The quotes will be on my blog and in my thesis paper.

9.     Your Name

Some results tallying…

Some results tallying…

I wonder how my questions, the choices I offered, show my hand.  I didn’t offer some of the materials that are possible, because I don’t want to go buy them.  I tried to word the questions and options in ways that made sense to my friends who are not artistically inclined, without being patronizing.  I didn’t give them the choice of size or surface material, because I wanted some continuity, and I wanted to be able to work quickly through this series. 

Did I make a mistake in allowing them to pass the choice back to me?  Is that me allowing them, and their trust in my choices to show, or does it simply take responsibility out of their hands?  We’ll see…

I am moving into a new studio space (in the same building) on Monday!  I did a walk-through with the space manager this last week where he admitted that there is NO heat directed to my current floor (the basement) and that they didn’t realize it was so cold.  We found a larger space upstairs that was recently vacated, so I get to feel my fingers when I paint again!  Yay!  I plan on moving up quickly and then beginning on the Survey Series.  

Till next time,

SJ