Excerpt from a work in progress (follow-up to 1st book which focused on earlier life as an actress). This new book is about becoming an artist and what that was all about. The writing of which I must say, is almost as exciting as doing the paintings themselves.
Portraits were a treasured way I connected to people beyond the surface. The concentration was intense. If it was my eye that noted shapes and shadows, it was my heart picking up feelings behind the form. The determining factor was always the inner being shaping the outer image. This was possible even from a thin, fragile stick of vine charcoal.
I read somewhere that Ad Reinhardt reportedly warned fellow artist Philip Pearlstein that he was responsible for the souls of all the people he painted. I would have shuddered to be held so accountable.
Still, there was no getting away from the revealing nature of portraiture—both for sitter and artist. I knew the truth of the saying that every portrait is a kind of self-portrait.
We cannot see deeper into others than we have seen into ourselves. And if we have seen deeply, then we cannot help but witness a similar depth. Getting a likeness, what most would assume was the be all and end all of a portrait, was the least of it.
Who the person was, the nature of their character, was revealed in a myriad of ways over which I had no conscious control.
My hand had a will of its own. My thoughts were of no consequence. I might have studied skin and hair, eyes and noses, but I didn’t actually draw them.
What I drew was the light reflecting off them, in greater or lesser degrees.