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A life portrait (part 2)

March 25, 2012

For a long time I had wanted to paint a portrait completely by life and finally, almost by chance I had the opportunity and I grabbed it. I met Jacqueline just at the right moment, when it was already strong my impulse to explore a new territory in painting and to discover how the personality of a model with whom I would share days of work, would be given expression onto the canvas. This portrait has been possible thanks to the generosity of Jacqueline, available to pose for me the days that were needed.

Even though I have painted many objects and spaces by life, and I continue to do life drawing so often, my paintings of people were based on photos. However, I would modify those pictures to adapt the subject to my own vision, which frequently reflected my own personality instead of the sitter’s. Nevertheless, Jacqueline has a very peculiar personality and, by knowing her, I realized that I could not force my vision into her. I had to see her for what she is, a young lady as petite and graceful as her refined illustrations and her cuddle toys, to which she gives names and treats like people. Jacqueline has come to illustration late, she is very talented, although mostly self-taught, as she has studied something else at university. Now she is moving to New York to look for a job and she knows that perhaps illustration is not what will give her a living at first, but she will go for her dream.

This is the image that I have tried to give her in my painting: Jacqueline is surrounded by her illustrations, with her favourite sweets, the M&Ms, which she would eat frequently while posing, with her cuddling toy which I have converted into a real rabbit, with flowers in her hair and a jar full of brushes. She looks thoughtful towards the interior, in her naive and fantastic world, while out of the window the buildings and the construction site create the contrast and remind of the raw reality.

Technically the portrait has been a challenge because of the constantly-changing reality, like the lighting conditions during the day and especially the exterior of the window, which I could only paint if it was sunny and during a little range of time in the day. Also the machines in the construction site, the folds of the dress, the locks of the hair and the same pose of Jacqueline on the sofa were never the same, so I had to paint and finish those parts in the same session, confiding on Jacqueline’s resistence to hold the pose.

A painting like this contains not only the image of the model but also incorporates the enriching experience of the sitting, which makes it symbolically more valuable than a painting of a mere likeness.

“L’illustratrice”, oil on linen, 146x114cm

 

 

ESPAÑOL:

Hacía mucho tiempo que quería pintar un retrato integramente del natural, al final la ocasión me ha venido casi casualmente y la he tomado al vuelo. He encontrado Jacqueline justo en el momento adecuado, cuando era ya muy fuerte el impulso de explorar un territorio nuevo dentro de mi pintura y de descubrir cómo la personalidad de un/una modelo con el/la que se comparten días de trabajo se plasma en el lienzo. Este retrato ha sido posible gracias a la generosidad de Jacqueline, disponible para posar para mi los días que hiciera falta.

Aunque yo haya pintado mucho del natural objetos y espacios, y aunque dibuje a menudo la figura humana del natural, mis retratos estában basados en fotografías. No obstante, esas fotos yo las modificaba para adaptar el sujeto a mi propia visión, la cual frecuentemente reflejaba más mi personalidad que la suya. Sin embargo, Jacqueline es una persona muy particular, el conocerla me hizo entender que no podía forzar mi visión dentro de ella, sino que tenía que verla por lo que ella es, una joven pequeña y graciosa como sus refinadas ilustraciones de moda y sus peluches infantiles, a los que dá nombres y trata como personas. Jacqueline está por mudarse a Nueva York para buscar trabajo de public relations, que es lo que ha estudiado. De todas formas le gustaría tener tiempo para dedicarse a la ilustración que es su pasión, aunque no sabe si algún día podrá dedicarse profesionalmente a ello.

Esa es la imagen que he querido darle en mi cuadro: Jacqueline, rodeada de sus ilustraciones, con sus dulces M&M, que solía comer a menudo mientras posaba, con su mascota (que yo he convertido en un conejo verdadero), con un jarro lleno de pinceles y unas flores en la cabeza, mira pensativa hacia adentro, su mundo inocente y fantasioso, mientras fuera de la ventana los edificios y las obras representan la cruda realidad.

Técnicamente el retrato del natural ha sido un desafío por el hecho de la realidad continuamente cambiante, como la iluminación a lo largo del día y especialmente la parte exterior de la ventana, que tenía que trabajar sólo en días de sol y durante ciertas horas, pero también la forma del pelo de la chica, los pliegues de su vestido, las máquinas de la obra, etc. Así que tenía que pintar y acabar esas partes tan cambiantes en la misma sesión, confiando en la capacidad de resistencia de Jacqueline en mantener la misma pose.

Un cuadro así contiene no solamente la imagen de esa persona sino también la vivencia de la enriquecedora experiencia del posar, que convierte la obra en algo más que el cuadro de un parecido.

 

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