Archive for the ‘Portrait Artists’ Category

Pop Art Portraits

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Pop Art is an interesting way of looking at something which usually already exists in some capacity and taking something entirely new from it.  The medium can use paintings or photography which has been manipulated and through this, make the public view the image in some way they had never considered before.  For example, Andy Warhol’s famous Marilyn Diptych is a series of portraits of famed movie star Marilyn Monroe.  He took one single image of her, a publicity still from 1953, and copied the image 50 times, in a series of 5 rows and 10 columns.  The 25 images on the left all have striking, unnatural color added to them, which give the image a larger-than-life quality.  The 25 images on the left all are presented in black and white, with some images having different tones of black than others.  This half of the artwork all is starkly bleak, giving the viewer a reminder that anything can be faded away or forgotten.  The work as a whole is largely symbolic of the overwhelming presence that celebrity can have as well as the mortality that all of us will experience.

These portraits usually have some major elements in common.  Most often, they are taken from a photograph of a person, although they can also easily be drawn.  The portrait is then traditionally bleached out, leaving only the outline and faint traces of color where it used to be.  If it is hand-drawn, only an outline is traditionally created.  Colors are then filled in throughout the portrait in direct contrast to what they normally should be.  Backgrounds are usually filled with bright colors, hair is often distorted, and faces are often presented as either one flat color or with an abundance of what would be makeup.  The portraits are loud, bringing the piece much attention.  Perhaps more interesting, however, is the way that attention is drawn to details which might have otherwise gone unnoticed in a more traditional representation of the subject of the portrait.  This is where Pop Art makes its mark, making someone see something new in an image that they would otherwise look at everyday.

Many Artists are very Self Conscious

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Most artists are very self conscious about their art work. Artists sometimes judge their own work more harshly than others, that’s why they seem to glow with praise of their work and most even throughout history have become severely depressed when they are critiqued harshly. They have already found their own work to be wanting, and feel that somehow what they have created falls just a tad short of what their inner eye visualized.

For many of today’s truly gifted artist this lack of confidence is what causes their downfall as artists. The art world is a business just as any other business, but because artists are so emotional and very self conscious about their art work, even more so than the uncomfortable feeling you get when you are in a gallery. For them, their work is their very soul, so when they receive a lot of negative criticism regarding their work, many fall to pieces, and decide that the art world is just not for them, even though they may be fabulous artists. So the next time you go to an art show and meet the self confident artist, remember he may be quaking in his shoes.

Photo Courtesy of: Phantom Galleries LA

Rembrandt – Great Baroque Artist

Friday, July 11th, 2008

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijin, is one of the greatest painters in art history and probably the most important painter in Dutch history. He was an artist that stylized to perfection the Baroque art movement.  He became especially well know for his portrait work.

In his religious and portrait work he uses every aspect to portray his classic style and Baroque realism, which was the popular movement of the time. But his religious work is noted for the humanity and empathy he showed all human beings. This emotional empathy showed through in all of his biblical themed work. During his lifetime as a painter, he not only produced some of the most important pieces we have of the period, but he also taught every important Dutch painter during his twenty year height as a painter.

He was born in 1606, the ninth child to a miller and a baker’s daughter.  As a youth he became apprenticed to a Leiden history painter and later with Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam. After he left his apprenticeship, he opened his own studio in 1624 and in 1627 he began to accept students.

Big commissions did not begin to come in for him until 1629, when he was discovered by a statesman named Constantijn Huygens, who began to bring him important commissions in portraiture.  In 1631 he moved to Amsterdam, and quickly became well known. Among one of his most moving works was the painting he did of his wife, on her death bed in 1642.

Artists Transmit Their Feelings

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Life takes you through many ups and downs, and all of us learn from the lows and enjoy the highs, but most of us don’t know how to express these emotions. But artists have a knack for being able to express their emotions through their paintings. You can tell when an artist has suffered in his life, when he experiences sheer joy, even what things he likes and dislikes. Some artists even transpose their very political or religious views in their art. You can tell, because the work becomes passionate, and the subjects, composition and poses are personal.

When artists are parents, their work becomes even more passionate, especially for those artists that either work in figure drawing, portrait work, or anything that has to do with emotions, as you can tell from the above portrait.

In this case the artist (Don Gray) has created a portrait of his adult son at work. In the painting he expresses the love, the regret of having him grown, his passion and his own. In each brush stroke you can visualize his reminiscing about years gone by, and yet loving the now, adult relationship he has with his son.

He also expresses his dedication, concentration, and love for his work through this painting, while at the same time you see a regret for the child that has grown into the man.

Surrealists Inspired in Dreams – Rene Magritte

Friday, June 6th, 2008

Rene Magritte - Les AmantsAnother famous artist who was inspired by his own imagination and inner thoughts was Rene Magritte. He was born into a middle class family, his father, a tailor, and his mother a milliner.

Rene Magritte was a Belgian artist, born at the end of the 19th century. He began to draw in 1910 when he began to take private art classes. When he was 12 his mother committed suicide, and many of his first paintings, a series of paintings of people with cloths obscuring their faces, may have been influenced from his witnessing the retrieval of his dead mothers body from the river.

In 1927 he had his first surreal exhibit and was criticized terribly for it. His failure caused him to move to Paris where he continued to show his paintings.

As it occurs in many other cases, most of the interest in his work did not occur until some time after his death. His work is mostly fantasy based, but has a somber mood and style to it. It is said that his work may have influenced the Pop, conceptual, and minimalist art movements. His work showed with younger contemporaries who later took on the fauvist and pop style.

Cubist (modern) Portraits

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

Ambroise Vollard - Pablo PicassoPicasso painted countless portraits in the Cubist style. Between fall and spring of 1909 Picasso painted over 60 portraits of his mistress and companion, Fernande Olivier. This is an amazing series of portraits and no other painter has this scope of work devoted to the portraiture of a single person. Picasso remains the single most prolific Cubist portrait artist.

The facial features in Cubist portraits are broken up and re-assembled in a very abstract form. In this style the artist depicts the portrayed person in a myriad of viewpoints to represent the subject in a greater context as well as from many perspectives. As Cubism evolved, Cubist artists began to focus even more on structure. This created the period that was called “Analytical Cubism”.

At this stage, bright colors were removed and portraits became monochromatic and were painted with earth tones. This helped the artist focus primarily on the structure of the painting. In the portraits of this period all the facial features: eyes, ears, nose, hair, etc, were deconstructed and rearranged again within the painting. The goal of all this expression was to depict different viewpoints at the same time.

Up until this point, artists saw objects or people as always viewed from one specific angle and at one specific moment in time. Picasso and Braque found this to be too limiting, and desired to represent objects and portraits as if the person was viewed from many angles or at different moments in time.

While at early periods of Cubism, the viewer could somewhat recognize the person being painted but as cubism evolved recognizing the subject became more and more difficult. This was indeed innovative while portraits became completely incomprehensible to the viewer. It became extremely difficult to recognize the person behind the portrait. It is interesting to note here that viewing the subject from many different angles and perspectives makes one loose the reference of the person, at least as many of us understand it.

Impressionism and the Portrait

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

Claude Monet- Woman with a parasol -1875The Impressionist art movement started as a rebellious art movement by four students, and yet today it is considered one of the most important art movements of our time. Even today we are inspired with awe when we see a piece by Monet or Manet.

The four that began the movement were Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Auguste Renoir, and Frederic Bazille. At the time conventional painting was done in doors, in the studios with subjects set within non existent historical Greek or Roman scenes.

One day these four artists took their work outdoors. They went to the forest of Fontainbleu and started painting out in the open. The object was to paint swiftly, to capture the light and the impression of the moment. As they began to further work in the style portraits that were commissioned were painted outdoors or in their natural setting. The painters began to see that capturing the natural light in a portrait gave the painting a certain energy.

Many of the time did not like Impressionism. The painters were ridiculed and the paintings were considered unfinished. It took 20 years for the movement to catch on and to become quite the in thing.

This is probably the reason not many portraits were commissioned, but many of the famous portraits of today were of the common people the artists knew at the time. The artists of this era were diverse both in style and in their temperament but they were all unified by their rebellious nature and their independent spirit.

Rococo Portraits

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

François Boucher’s portrait “Marquise de Pompadour”There were many artists that were and still are known from the great Rococo period. The Rococo period started in France in the 17th century evolving from the Baroque and continued throughout the 18th century, but was soon followed by the neoclassical period. Rococo was a lighter, clearer and more optimistic period and the art, especially the portraits of the time reflect this.

Among the most renowned portrait artists of the period were Sir Joshua Reynolds and François Boucher. They portrayed mainly members of the aristocrat society, dressed with sophisticated clothes. The painters of the time captured the smallest details in their portraits. This is noted in Boucher’s portrait “Marquise de Pompadour” where the painter paid attention to all the details in the fashions of the time and the decorative styles.

During this period, portraits became very popular among the aristocratic society of France, England, Italy and Spain. These artists began to portray what life of the aristocracy was really like. The painters of this period chose lighter images and became inspired by mythology, romance and femininity. Portraits were painted in light, vibrant colors, and subjects were painted in frivolous and fun scenes. Painters used a more feminine stroke and lighter colors verging on the pastel. Rococo painters generally portrayed rich people and members of the aristocracy. People were portrayed dressed in their beautiful and elegant clothes and intricate detail was added to the paintings.

It has been noted by many art experts that most portraits of the time were painted with the owners hunting dogs when the subject was male and women were painted with their lap dog. When peasants were painted, which was seldom, there is usually a stray mutt or two in the portrait.

A Moment in Time Captured in an Oil Painting

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

Oil Portrait painted by GuaranteedPortraits.comDigital imaging and digital photography have brought great things both to the art world and to the end consumer. Most artists don’t know what they would do without their digital camera anymore. It has become an essential tool and an art form in itself.

But the question is; are we losing an essential part of ourselves when we replace one art form with another?

What happened to the romantic period? What happened to the times when the gift or the painting of a family portrait was absolutely essential? Today our desks, our living room, bedroom and even the bathroom is full of family pictures, but can most of us say that we have a real oil painting, or an oil portrait of the people we care about.

Can a photograph really replace the pleasure, the artistic talent and the emotions we perceive through an oil portrait or even any oil painting? When was the last time someone walked through your home and found themselves utterly captivated by a family photograph? That’s not to say that there aren’t some absolutely fabulous photographers that take their art to another level. But the truth is most family photographs cannot capture the essence of a person the way an oil painting can.

Charcoal -Black and white

Thursday, January 31st, 2008


Odilon Redon CharcoalOne of the most striking aspects about charcoal art is that it is completely devoid of color. Thus, within the limited constraints of black and white, the portraitist has to express his subject. In fact the French painter Odilon Redon rebelled against the predominant impressionism of those times. He was of the idea that society curtailed natural phenomena. He consciously chose to work with pencil and rendered black and white paintings as his way of rebelling against the dull reality of color in real life. Having a fascination for the morbid and the menacing, many of Redon’s paintings contained creatures like insects, amoeboid creatures, as well as plants containing human heads. Through his paintings, this revolutionary portrayer served to refute the standard differentiation between ugly and beautiful.

A depth of meaning

If you consider the works of James Drake, all of his works were done in charcoal and served to represent the looming and gloomy image of war. For example, in his painting the War in Heaven he has patched and taped various animals and birds such as hawks, gazelles, insects of giant proportions etc. In this painting, the portraitist has tried to showcase the ‘patched up’ nature of memory. Just like one’s memory which gets torn, weathered and repaired once again, this work too depicts a melancholic and dramatic effect. Portrait artists who have depicted work in black and white have managed to convey a far deeper meaning in their paintings as compared to colored paintings.


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