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Friday, February 5, 2010

Painting a fleeting expression from life

I want to make a self portrait that has the spontaneity of a momentary act, like a hearty laugh or caught mid-expression.  So I did this quick study from life to see what could be done.  It has some drawing issues that can be fixed just by slowing down, but I find the biggest problem is that a laugh devolves within seconds into a pained expression. It has no half life that even remotely expresses the excitement of a true laugh.  Maybe the trick is to have Monty Python or Something About Mary on in the background to create an atmosphere that promotes easy smiles and unexpected guffaws.  I was listening to NPR (a talk about partisan politics)  on the radio and the smiles weren't flowing.  I will try it and post the results. 

Me, life size study, approx. 12"x16"


  1. Yes!
    Raw moment of life! Very good. Reads as a laugh to me, real!
    If there is any tweeking, I think some type of way to get a twinkle in the eye(s) would push this "universal language" into no dought, a laugh
    I enjoy your art!

  2. Theres an old movie, I think it's called "The dying of the Light" where the artist has the model continuously laughing while she's posing. Eventually she goes crazy and destroys the painting. Hals and Rembrandt had a pretty good handle on it.

  3. Great Painting Rick

  4. To Anonymous, If that applies to me, I have trouble seeing the upside, since it's a self portrait

  5. Well, painting a laughing figure or a fleeting moment is almost like a holy grail of painting and your thoughts made me think about the movie. Not implying that you might go insane. Your portrait also reminds me a little bit of the self portrait by Carravaggio showing himself as both David and the severed head of Goliath.(maybe it's all the red around the mouth):)

  6. No worries, Just having fun with a the first thought that popped in my head. I see what you mean around the mouth, it does remind me of that Caravaggio. I'll pull out a print of that for further study. Thanks

  7. hi daddy!!! wats up!?!?!?! cool painting!!!! it looks like you!!!! ok i gotta go!!!!! luv ya!!!

    :) :) phoebe

  8. Hey Rick,
    I noticed the eyes too. I've seen you laugh and your eyes crinkle and twinkle!!
    Thanks for telling me about the blog.

  9. Isn't it interesting how a laugh and a grimace coincide? There is something mask-like to this painting, or perhaps I almost hear a you saying "Oh hey!" in a funny voice...The fleeting expression is so hard to capture. By the way I have a blog too, for school. . Cheers !

  10. you paint really good...can you tell me what colors you used in this self portrait, is limited palette?