Here is a little preview of the painting I am currently working on. I wanted to wait until it was further along to post it but, it has been a few weeks since I have managed to get a post out and I wanted to keep things up to date around here. This one will be in the studio for a while, it is the largest piece yet at 4′x6′. If you want to keep following along with this piece as it comes together, I will post progress shots on Twitter every few days.
I have been recruiting volunteers to sit for my next few paintings and it got me thinking about how some people have reacted to my paintings. When coming face to face with the pieces they often have the same two reactions. They always ask me, “Nick, why I paint the women so ugly? Why do you put in all the wrinkles and pimples, do you hate these girls?” or “Hey, why don’t you ever blend your colors?” Now, when it is just friends and neighbors hanging around the studio, I am pretty quick to shrug these things off, just some friendly criticisms. However, when more and more people start coming to me with the same questions, I figure it is time to answer the questions.
First off, I don’t blend my colors just because, that is the way I paint. I like a painting to stand proud as a painting with its brush strokes in tact. Really. I like paintings that look realistic when you step back but, explode into chaotic energy when you get your nose into them so, that is the type of painting I try to emulate when I am working. Beyond that these two questions have very similar answers.
In this day and age, everywhere you turn, images of beautiful people stare back at you. Portraiture is now run by photography and now the tools have evolved to the point that nearly anyone can get a decent shot, pull it into the computer and tweak their way to a beautiful image. Polished to perfection and plastic-y, every pore photoshopped shut and every wrinkle magically removed. Dead. Boring. Why would I follow this path with my paintings? I like people with character. I like faces that tell a story, punctuated with a scar (I wish I could find more subjects with scars). I am painting people that are beautiful; there is no need to try to improve on them. On the contrary, I want to celebrate the quirks that make them unique. Just like leaving obvious brush strokes on the surface of the painting, step back and all you see is a nice image, get a little closer and all sorts of interesting and beautiful things start to appear.
I think a majority of the people that look at the paintings understand this. I don’t think anyone that has sat for one of the paintings feels that I have shown them in a negative light? No women have ever asked me why I make the girls ugly so, maybe its just a difference in perspective.