A month or so ago, my friend Jill Margo over at GOOD kindly talked up this newsletter on Facebook. She said:
"I used to have artist friends who'd send me wonderful letters in the mail, including bits and pieces of art. I can't remember the last time that happened though, which is one of the reasons I'm super digging Betty-Ann Lampman's monthly email missive, Feed the Monster. It feels like those letters used to feel. She makes me laugh, and think, and feel like I just got a little special prezzie."
This got me thinking—Feed the Monster often is like those letters, and this can only be a good thing because I miss getting those letters, too. I can also use this as my excuse for including today this artifact found when clearing out my mother's house—something I made for her when I was likely a pre-teen (it clearly dates from before I started trying to make my hand-writing "cool"). A folded piece of paper, which says on the front:
And when unfolded, reveals...
This last one, below, appeared on the back-side as the paper was unfolded:
What the deuce? Commentary on the company my mother kept, or just random weirdness? Clearly the product of a disturbed mind, hahaha! I found a number of strange greeting cards I made my mother over the years, and some other somewhat perplexing drawings. Plus I was reminded that I once left a large (large as in three feet long) stuffed bear on my mother's bed for her to find, dressed and padded to appear pregnant and disheveled, with an empty wine glass and a photo of my brother propped beside it. IN-TER-EST-ING...
REMINDERS OF THE PEOPLE YOU HAVE KNOWN IN YOUR LIFE.
This month I was commissioned to paint Jody Wilson-Raybould. It's always somewhat excruciating to paint a commissioned portrait... I feel a lot of pressure to make it perfect, while knowing that no such thing exists. Still, I want to get the likeness as close as I possibly can, so at a certain point in the proceedings I start to take photos of the painting on my phone, which I'll then hold up to compare to the photo I'm using on my computer. A lot of screens are involved I know, but for some reason the areas of the portrait that need fixing jump out more quickly on my phone than they do when looking down at the painting on my table.
At this point I'll take notes, which start out being pretty general...
...then become more detailed as I get down into the nitty-gritty.
The minute details are important if you want that person to really shine through their portrait... and, needless to say, if you hope it to actually look like them. Noticing and capturing the tiniest details are what make the portrait come alive, I think—and when I say tiny, I mean tiny. When I find and fix a shadow that should be a millimeter or two longer, the entire portrait shifts and moves that much closer to being that person.
I haven't had specific training in portrait painting, but this is what I've noticed over time. I don't think there's anything particularly magical about it, though with the amount of intense, concentrated staring I do near the end I wouldn't be surprised if the painting becomes imbued with a certain amount of hoodoo...
You can get 'em made, by me. Just ask.
Mugshot No. 3 shown printed at 20X24 inches. The coveted original mistakenly sold twice in one night!
Mugshot No. 7 (above and below) was a popular favourite and there was a bit of a scramble over the original, which sold quickly. For those of you who asked about prints, here she is! Above she's been printed at 30X36 inches... largest giclée I've ever had made. Below we see the lovely model Skei with her copy of Mugshot No. 7 at 16X18 inches.
The winner of this month's draw for a free print from balampman.com is Andrew Templeton! Andrew, you've won a new living-room ensemble! No, no you haven't. But contact me about that print.