A Bit of a Surprise OR The Yattering and Miss K

When I started painting Friday I had no idea what was in store me. I mentioned a while back that I was interested in doing some portraiture as well as some more figurative work. I’ve been wanting to change the way I paint as well. Painting more intuitively as opposed to working strictly from photos or from life. Friday gave me a solid dose of what I’ve been looking for.

So I’ve been sitting on this photo for the better part of a year. It’s a picture that I really enjoy of a friend of mine. I asked her if I could use it sometime last Winter and she agreed. Then in my usual manner I filed it away for “future use” and promptly forgot about it for 6months. I decided Friday was the night. My commissioned work is coming along nicely (plus it needed an evening to dry up a bit) and I was itching for something different to paint so I printed off the photo and started working. The pace was feverish. I don’t think I looked up for 3 hours. That’s when you know you’re having a good time… Am I right? Yeah. At the end of the that session I’d managed to cover the entire canvas in a fairly well fleshed-out portrait. It needed some refining, but the elements were there. Plus my friend had evolved a friend of her own. He’s kind of creepy and kind of comical. I’m going to say he’s a Yattering. It’s from a Clive Barker story called The Yattering and Jack. He’s a minor demon sent by Beelzebub to torment and irritate. You have to ignore them or they’ll walk all over you… and take your soul to Hell. Some people. Her apparent lack of awareness of the presence of the Yattering is belied by her bemused expression. Oh she knows he’s there and her refusal to acknowledge his deeds is driving him nuts.
Or she’s a meth-head and this is her paranoia in action.

I took a couple more hours over the course of the weekend to refine both of their features. The Yattering took on a couple of different incarnations. I settled on the last one because of my personal interpretation of the little guy’s purpose and my own deep-seated fear of faceless gibbering horrors no matter how comical. All in all I was blown away by the speed at which this painting poured forth from me. I typically paint more slowly working on a single piece for 4-6 weeks. Hmmm… I suppose if I had more time during the day (looks thoughtfully toward the sky)… I should probably be careful what I wish for. Then again…

I’ve never had a lot of success painting faces. Especially making those faces look like the person (people) I’m supposed to be painting. I began to realize that was part of my block. I was so wrapped up in making a Portrait that I was failing to make a Painting. I eventually let go of the fact that I was painting someone I knew and just started painting a girl. A girl based on a photo of someone I knew. I am happy to say that her eyes DO follow you wherever you go. In the context it’s more than a little unsettling.

I also had to let go of the idea that my fictional/fantastical ideas for paintings were somehow of less worth than my other work. That was a tough one. I was told a long time ago that I shouldn’t put the two together, but part of me has been trying to reconcile them every since. Perhaps this is a step in that direction. Either way I’m excited and more than a little surprised at myself.
It doesn’t get much better than that.

I think I need to do more. Wanna pose?

Cheers,

R

~ by Robert L Reeves on November 16, 2009.

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