I remember when I opened up my very first starter kit of oil paints. It had six tiny tubes of paint, a 3X6 inch coated cardboard palette, a small bottle of linseed oil and another of turpentine, and two bristle brushes (one of which I still have thirty five years later.) But no instructions! What was I supposed to do with this crap? How was I supposed to learn to paint if no one was going to tell me? Printed on the back of the box was a cryptic blurb about discovering the joys of painting-- blah, blah, blah. But it did say that if you mixed Burnt Sienna and Titanium White together you get a lovely "flesh" tone.
So I did portraits.
Over the years I've done a ton of them. I've painted friends, brides, grooms and family. Some for free, and some for a fee. Some I wish I had another crack at. Others, I'm sure, the owner's wish they had picked a different artist to do them. Fair enough. There was even a couple that I thought I did okay. But I keep trying. Like all paintings, you never know when one is actually going to come out great. It's just like Hide-And-Go-Seek.
She was thirteen, and yeah, everyone said I made her look too old. I do remember trying to down-play the hardware she had on her teeth. She wasn't thrilled I showed her braces to begin with. Ten years later I did another portrait of her.
"Geez Dad, you made me looked pissed off!" Or so thought Tom. He was nineteen, and he looked like this all the time. I thought I got his demeanor nicely. However, I promised to make him look more pleasant the next time I paint him.
I got it in me to try another one recently, so I went after my beautiful partner Ellen. Now really, Ellen is a lovely woman. But she rather dislikes what I did to her.