Tag Archives: contemporary portrait paintings

Interview

“When we make things, we find our associates and allies. We find our communities, and everything that comes along with that, including the power to resist and reasons for actual joy.”

Jean Smith interview with Jes Reyes

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Video: $100 USD paintings currently available

Midway through every month I put together a video of all the $100 USD paintings (11 x 14″) available. Music by Mecca Normal with part of a CKUT interview near the end.

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Video: Currently Available

$100 USD portrait paintings available (14 x 11″ acrylic on canvas panel and paper). Music by Mecca Normal (Jean Smith and David Lester).

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Notes on Four Paintings

No Hat #373 800“No Hat #373″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) $100 USD plus shipping

This was probably around the time I started considering each eye as a distinct way to convey different emotions simultaneously. I think prior to this I thought of the eyes as matching. Having said that, I don’t set out to convey specific emotions. They emerge, evolve and eventually stabilize based on how they jive with other elements in the painting — including color and composition. There are a few other things going on here — likely because I was thinking about the eyes differently. The mouth and nose are from a straight on perspective while the eyes are more from a semi-profile. There’s a weird pop art realism about the mouth that doesn’t carry over into the other feature, but it affects how everything else is seen. I think I’d been adding highlight for a while, but in this one it’s quite prevalent — especially how it’s used beside the nostrils to give the nose its length.

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“She’s No Picnic #2″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) $100 USD plus shipping

I did the first “No Picnic” around 2003 as a self-portrait. It was something someone said to me (you’re no picnic either) during an argument in the late 1990s and I think we both laughed and likely stopped arguing. The somewhat charming nature of the comment stuck with me and when I did the original painting I was angry about something specific (interpersonal dynamics) and the old-timey expression brought up both the long history of oppression and how idioms surface in a pinch to squelch rogue female outbursts.

Patriarchal conditionings strongly encourage women to look certain ways’ (pretty, sexy, calm, loving, approachable, passive, interested) and when episodes of injustice occur we might always be somewhat mindful that we are not supposed to look angry.

The kind of anger in this painting, is when you feel you’ve been unfairly dealt within a protected system that supports injustice to ensure that some other group benefits. This anger is hinged to understanding, but not accepting that you are unable to correct the misconceptions that other person apparently holds and really, showing them a display of anger like this might actually work against you, but since it’s all hopeless anyway, you go for it. That kind of anger.

Rarely would I delve back into the emotional landscape of a specific event to dredge up an emotion, but this is isolated within both the painting and my history, and yet highly transferable to anyone who cares to relate to the intensity.

Also, as far as titles (and other text) go, I don’t usually include language-based information. Obviously, as a writer, I could — and it seems popular to weight art with a titles as an informative element — but within the parameters of my online project I feel that because of the depth of my art-making history, working without overarching conceptualism is part of what I’m doing. This has to do with trusting me and trust is an important part of the project.

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“No Hat #501″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) $100 USD plus shipping

I’d say this is mostly about the various amounts of specific colours and how they work together within the composition. The photo I’m working from is lit with a gold light on the left and a blue light on the right. With the face being mostly a yellow (to which purple is the complementary colour) I adjust the amount of the cooler colours (blue and purple) to push the yellow / the face adequately into the featured position. This is also accomplished by the use of the splayed / distressed brush I use for the hair — I suspect all those little parallel lines are interpreted as a singular plane of representation — a solid thing. And, considering how we regard hair culturally as a a unified shape rather than individual strands, i have that working in my favour as well.

It feels like a great luxury for me to have the bangs resonate with the ribbing of the turtleneck. One of the handful of things my mom taught me was that if you’re going to have something running off the top, you need to have something running off the bottom. Same with sides. Sometimes when I paint the top of the head and obviously the neck runs off the bottom, I consider other ways to achieve a compositional ‘running off the top’ whether it’s in the colour or texture of the background — or almost the reverse of the rule: neck and shoulders so pronounced, so overtly weighted on the bottom, that the sense of it being a human subject overwhelms the compositional rule. It also helps that blue recedes, pushing the face forward.

 

No Hat #368 800

“No Hat #368″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) $100 USD plus shipping

The interruption in panel of reddish brown on the left (aka the hair) would have been done with the side of my hand sweeping left for whatever reason. One quick swipe on the edge of my little finger and down the hand. Obviously I knew the paint was still wet enough to move, and I would have been aware of what was beneath it, knowing it would be revealed — that is to say, I knew the background was dry. Why was I swiping away paint? There may have been a build up of paint, a bead of raised pigment that I avoid and remove as necessary. Some soft and or long brushes, depending on how much paint they’re loaded with, create a line on both traveling edges as opposed the their travelling breadth. It’s like a snow shovel that pushes snow to the outside as it scrapes along the sidewalk — and let’s face it, sometimes brushes are moving paint more than applying paint. So let’s get that out of the way (pardon the pun).

Anyway, I swiped and I guess there was a surplus of wet paint above the swipe. It looks like I held the painting upright to get that surplus to trickle across the newly exposed surface. I wasn’t essentially trying to achieve what was achieved, but since it’s there, let’s talk about it. I very frequently create a strong line on the right side where the hair meets the background, then, on the left side, I create a less strong line. In fact, I almost always do this since I watched a YouTube video of a convicted art forger who was demonstrating some of John Singer Sargent’s tricks. The right side, being a crisper line, pushes forward, while the blurrier line on the left recedes. It would be like taking a photo with a short depth of field (the are in focus), so that even a line set back by mere inches would be blurrier than the where the lens was focused. Doing this in a painting serves to inform our brain that we’re looking at something convincingly realistic. I like creating this in the brain to then work with looser features that are fortified by a touch of realism in various ways. So there is almost always some place on the surface of my paintings that works this way — in conflict or colluding with realism, foisting it forward to disagree with it in abstract nuances — all within the face and hair, a heightened arena of emotional revelations.

So, the hyperrealism of the drips (without any help from me… I did not articulate drips of paint; they arrived as themselves) pop out at us thus creating a good deal of space between them and where the reddish brown hair was wiped away, which is now even farther back than the farthest point on the painting (thanks to Sargent).

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Free Artist Residency

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Wow! SIX paintings sold yesterday, which means I’ve now covered my expenses ($1000 USD) for November with $400 USD going towards opening the Free Artist Residency for Progressive Social Change!

100% of painting sales from now until the end of November go towards purchasing a place where artists (painters, printers, musicians, writers, filmmakers, photographers) can stay for free while working on projects that intend to change the world.

Friend me on FaceBook to see new paintings first! Currently painting daily.

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Video: Currently Available

October 15, 2018 back to the beginning of the series (January, 2016). Music by Mecca Normal (Jean Smith and David Lester).

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Paper

No Hat #486 800
“No Hat #486″ (11 x 14” acrylic on paper) October 15, 2018. $100 USD plus shipping.
No Hat #487 800
“No Hat #487″ (11 x 14” acrylic on paper) October 15, 2018. $100 USD plus shipping.
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“No Hat #488″ (11 x 14” acrylic on paper) October 15, 2018. $100 USD plus shipping.

“The Hat” series began on paper (early 2016) and then moved onto canvas panel. I’ve stuck with the panels since the summer of 2016, but this morning I was checking out the paintings of an artist I like (after he liked one of my paintings on Instagram !) and the way he works with oil on aluminum – all squishy and slithery – made me want to go back to a smooth surface. I ‘primed’ the paper here with gel medium.

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