Portraits are hard to do!

Girl with Bird.jpg

I was approached about a portrait commission during a recent show. I hesitated because I don't really "do" portraits. I had painted a genre-type painting that included a figure, which a lot of people seemed to like, but I wasn't very confident about capturing a likeness where it mattered. I reviewed a lot of snapshots and spent some time with a charismatic young girl whose ideal pet is an African hissing cockroach. Eventually we settled on a photo of the girl feeding Birdeelee, a rescue who had become imprinted and would hang out on the patio waiting to be fed.

I struggled with just about everything. Getting the head to be that of a young child. Dealing with the background, which needed to have some reality but also needed to "step back" to give focus to the figure. The light in the photo was indirect, so I didn't have any obvious drama. As a result, I looked at a lot of impressionist portraits along with John Singer Sergeant -- a did the best I could. Now on to landscapes!


These days it seems we have a superabundance of everything. Too much cold in winter. Spring days that are too beautiful, because too dry. And now too much rain. In the rolling glacial plain where I live, the old farm families are leaving their land. Too many rocks. Too much work and too many worries. Fields where cattle and sheep used to graze are now covered with too many small trees and weedy shrubs in dense thickets. 

Yellow willows. ©Laura Shore 2015

Yellow willows. ©Laura Shore 2015

This painting is from a photograph I took in New Salem in January 2011. My mother always looked to the bright yellow willows and red saplings as a sign that winter would turn to spring. I made this painting this winter in her memory.