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SS: 002 / Who Are These People?

Well... I already forgot about Monday's post! DANG IT! Due to missing yesterday's post I will cover a more serious topic today. Maybe skipping a day or two will be a better goal for posting in this blog.

In the pictures above are distant relatives on my mother's side of the family. What I know about these individuals is small. Then why do I paint them?

The answer to this question is something I'm still trying to understand. When I started painting my goals revolved around technique and rendering abilities. Being able to reproduce an image in paint consumed my process and aim. It took a few years for me to realize how helpful painting could be to discover and reflect on parts of my life.

Once in the past two years when I was home in Kenosha; I had the urge to bring family photographs back with me to school where I planned to reference them for subject matter. I struggled and still do with my process. I feel like there's a missing link between the photos and my painting. Maybe its because I don't understand the history that lies in some of the photographs? But then I question if it's better that I can view these images as an outsider who doesn't have preconcieved notions of who these people are. What I find most interesting, so far, is how these people have no idea at the time that years in the future there would be a young man staring at their photos painting them. This is one reason for why I'm drawn to the candid aspect of these images.

In my experience of painting the figure from life I struggled with the idea of painting an honest expression. Self portraits are a whole different ball game in my opinion. I think that as the artist you have direction to where the painting will be able to go. The model offers themselves usually knowingly to the artist to be studied, which causes problems in capturing personality for the artist sometimes. This is similar to how people change their persona when meeting new people. I think that the fear of judgement hinders the models ability at times to express their whole emotions. This is what has been leading me to searching for old photographs. New photographic references have difficulty keeping my attention. I think I have a theory for why this is too.

When I was a kid my mother would hand my brother and I a disposable camera each to take to summer camps. "Try to fill them up guys" she would always say. Rarely would we come home with empty rolls kodak cameras. Usually I would have a belly of excitement for a few of the photos I was anxious to see! The time between taking the picture and reliving that moment helped build a feeling of attachment to those memories when I was kid.

Digital cameras and camcorders changed the way I used and appreciated photos looking back now. Moving pictures always fascinated me as a child too. I think that being able to capture how a person lives, behaves, loves, etc. is one of the greatest priveliges of our age. I think I was 12 or 13 when my sister loaned me $50 to buy a AA battery powered video camera that was small enough to fit in my pocket. The screen had to have been 1 inch in diameter. Anyways, I loved this camera and the ablity to record my life. Documenting my life obviously still is, but always has been essential to who I am. I think it just showed how important all moments are to me. Good and bad. Planned and spontaneous.

By painting my relatives that I know very little about I'm hoping to feel closer to understanding who they might have been and how they're lives were. What I'm hoping to also challenge myself with is how I can use them as my subjects but then also finding a way to apply concepts that are relevant to me in the process. I guess we'll see how these ideas progress.

Until the next post, keep loving life!

- Hector

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