The crit group response to my exploration of/ experimentation with color was both helpful and reflective of my own projections about what I want to further explore next: the relationship between viewer and sitter.
More specifically, I want to explore the idea of truth within that relationship/encounter.
Expanding on Rudy's comment that my previous portraits had a "brutal honesty" in regards to how the sitter was portrayed, I agree that my work feels like a response to Rudy's next idea that "the world is full of false appearances". This is true now more than ever.
I can recall many moments after a portrait sitting was finished and the sitter rose to take a look. Very often the subject looked disappointed --many seemed like they could not get away from the portrait fast enough: "I look old", "I look big", "no one is going to believe that's me", "you see me darker-skinned than I really am" are a few of the responses.
Rudy's comment of "false appearances" throws these reactions into a modern day context for me vis-a-vis selfies and the manipulation and curation of our own images: Rudy has me thinking that my sitters were not necessarily reacting so much to the work, but to the work in relation to how they may have been manipulating their own images (and thusly warping their own self-images). In short, they were reacting to a truth: a truth on canvas.
This makes me think not only about the truths that are revealed in the finished portrait but about my relationship with the sitter and the various truths that emerge in conversation while they sit.
In connection with this, Sheila asks, "how will you bring the interaction between the viewer and sitter forward?" My initial idea was to simply record the sittings but my advisor has asked me to take a step further and, switching roles, have my subjects paint me.
This switching of roles prompts some questions for me: does the power of looking for or sifting for truth(s) shift? Will the painters (formerly the sitters) still be revelatory and vulnerable as they paint or will I, now the subject, become the one who is opened up and who must now face the portrait and all the truths it reveals about me?
As far as the shift in palette goes (which was the main point of the submission) I welcome the reaction from Sheila that the grey portraits invite her to "connect more to the subjects". Furthering that line of thought was Sarah's comment that the grey palette may be giving me "license for more visible intimacy". But then Sarah wonders if it is the grey palette that is affecting the look and mood of these second portraits or if, simply, the "relationship" is "showing through" as these subjects have sat for me before (does a new truth emerge with the frequency of sittings/encounters?)
Either way I want to continue experimenting with color and exploring the relationship between artist and subject and the concept of encounter/truth so here is my next step:
I will have people who were former subjects paint me. They may need some instruction (to what extent? How will this differ from person to person?) How will the conversation run? Will they relax enough to stop talking about the process and engage with me in deeper conversation (as usually happens when I am behind the canvas?) or will the entire sitting be a nervous conversation about process and results? (A conversation that I usually have privately, in my own head, while painting and conversing with the sitter). And what truths will, on either or both sides, be revealed in this switching of roles?
Another idea that I am toying with is instructing the painter to choose a palette with which to paint my portrait. In the way I tinged my colors with grey in the new portraits, perhaps I will have my painters chose a palette through which they want to capture me (will they choose red? Blue? Green? Black? Why? What effect will it have? What truth will be revealed through that choice? And will any of their choices affect my own work?)