Tuesday, April 8, 2014

About a Group Portrait

Portrait of a loving grandfather and his six grandchildren.
A beautiful portrait of a beautiful family!
         "I am always doing that which I cannot do in order that I may learn how to do it." - Picasso"

Our Zen Calendar posted this in February when I was right in the middle of creating a family portrait of seven for one of my favorite collectors. This collector is particularly interested in having very close likenesses in commissions, in sculpture and of course portraiture.

When we discussed the commission in November, and I received the initial source material, I had to think long and hard.  The source photo was very problematic, and creating seven likenesses in watercolor on one page seemed pretty daunting!
Original photo
Finally deciding accept the challenge, we agreed on a price, and my collector sent along Christmas cards (the photo collage kind) for reference.   I'm posting them for you here. Though I had done portraits for some time, the source material was almost always very usable from the beginning and I had easily replicated it in watercolor - this would require more radical revision!

Moving Jack out from behind his cousin Daniel, and taking the toy out of Camilla's mouth seemed obvious, but more subtle problems had to be addressed. Three of the subjects, Jacob, Linnea, and Emma were very blurred, and I couldn't tell what was happening in the very dark lower third of the photo. Scanning it in Photoshop, I lightened the whole photo, and could then see the bottom third.
reference photos
The three blurred children and Jack were painted with information from the Christmas card photos. Sending updated pictures of the painting to the grandfather frequently enabled correction where necessary as I progressed with the painting, and some weeks later it was completed.
Working in watercolor on 300# hotpress Arches is very forgiving - minute adjustments are easily made, which is the key to creating a realistic likeness.
now for the final adjustments!

With both of us now happy with the final result, the painting goes off this week to its home, and the grandfather, who truly adores his whole family, has a lovely "moment in time" to treasure, memorialized in a way that a photo cannot possibly do, especially not the origin photo!

As for me, the restrictions on the source materials I thought I needed  have become only suggestions on my watercolor portrait website  - probably most any photograph that a client treasures would make a good watercolor portrait (except a studio portrait photo!)

It would be wonderful for me if any of you would pass this along to anyone whom you think would treasure a memory in the form of a watercolor portrait!

Happy Spring!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Disorderly Order: Orderly Disorder

In taking  an "Organize Your  Art Business" online -12 week class from Alyson Stanfield, ArtBizCoach, I've had an opportunity to assess and alter the way I support my chief activities, my painting, sculpting,  and managing business,  my art-life, and my partner's, his sumi-e and recovery.

Sculpture, and Paintings from the  2013 Year
of Months' Series by Marianne Hornbuckle
Thanks to the computer and online tools that didn't exist when we began this journey together back in
the early 80's, the means of organizing the business side is both easier, and more complex, with the artist assuming more and more of it.
At the same time, the gallery world has changed.  In 20 years of gallery representation, peripheral duties consisted of shipping and tracking inventory, maintaining good relationships and meeting deadlines.  For me, the big shift began in the mid-90's when I first touched a computer, and decided to learn as much as I could about how to use the programs related to marketing.
 I found I enjoyed the challenge (in hindsight, of course) and recognized that we would be marketing ourselves at mid-late career (or late-mid career).  As artists we had not followed the proscribed path to artistic security, i.e. don't divorce, move, change genres, explore other approaches to image-making; get an art degree, establish yourself, teach workshops, write how-to books, stick with popular genres, find salable imagery and repeat it. We found ourselves in the final cycle of most of our galleries - galleries change directions, go out of business, return to their original city, and heirs sell - and chose to go the self-representation route. We live north of Santa Fe, so there is plenty of opportunity here.

Sumi-e with 5'scroll of Canyon de Chelly
by William Preston
Self-representation as artists has lead to more freedom, more control, and much satisfaction.  As the "manager", I have embraced the great possibilities of growing technology, social media, advice from experts. This course has been a wonderful opportunity to learn that I am more ahead than behind, that experience, wisdom and perspective do matter, and that I can learn to create more order (and serenity) in my art-life even at this late date!
William has been making art for 50+ years; I, for 35+, both of us full-time. We have seen remarkable changes, as you can imagine. And, I guess I won't stop blogging after all -my last post was late June, I'm embarrassed!  But I did keep the newsletters going.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Transition AGAIN? A Year of Months: June:Transition

What will the next months bring - the next weeks, the next days, the next minutes?
Despite the drought, June has brought extravagance - in flowers blooming, in generosity from friends, in adjustments to new challenges, in advances in art-making, in gratitude for the natural expression of things.
The dust rises, and settles, and look at the wonders!  Tiger swallowtails visited the larkspur in the rose bed not once but twice when I happened to be there and could record it!  The clematis that looked dead 3 weeks ago responded to watering and loaded up with 4" blossoms.  Roses I thought had succumbed to the cold dry winter blossomed profusely, if a little shorter. Other delights too numerous to count remind me of so many blessings!   Shared dishes, volunteered transport, time carved out for creative work, new paradigms adjusted to and made meaningful for both Bill and me- all expressing this time of the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, and the duality and versatility of Geminis.   Holding all this in my head and heart, June:Transition, the 6th in my series, A Year of Months has emerged. It truly is about transition, and all the promise and the leaving and trust that that  entails.
A Year of Months: June:Transition     48x36" ac/canvas 
Coming soon, July, my power month!  A new painting, and another video about the actual process, sequentially, of making a painting (as soon as I finish the voiceover!)
Here's to SUMMER!