Monday, January 12, 2009

School Portrait Finished & Brattleboro Art Museum Show

Finally finished. I wouldn't say there is not room for improvement, but sometimes its better to stop than to make endless changes. The changes between this and the last update are subtle and only really affected the the markers and table top. Go ahead and click the image to see a larger view.

Thanks so much everyone for following along for my first pastel ride & I look forward to doing more in the future.... as well as purchasing more pastels!

Brattleboro Museum Art Center Portrait Show and Chuck Close prints

I left the studio early Friday when I saw the Eventful ad for the new shows at the Brattleboro Art Museum in Brattleboro VT. I had just enough time to drive there after lunch, catch the exhibit and get home to the kids when the school bus drops them off.

They have dedicated almost the whole museum for a large all portrait show entitled "As We See It" which includes some very well known artists such as Alice Neel, Chuck Close and Kehinde Riley (seen below) as well as local artists. I took a couple of photos from further away, but you can see more of the artwork on the "As We See It" exhibition page at BMAC and download the .pdf brochure.

What I liked about this show was the sheer numbers of portraits of all differing styles shown together. There is everything from traditional to contemporary and in all different media. When I say all media, I think if you named something it would be on the list of media. Some more odd examples were: pencil & blood, polyester resin, and (now the almost usual) video installation. Some of my favorites actually were in unusal media such as the embroidery & wool on painted linen entitled "Dad" by Cayce Zavaglia. Check out more work by Cayce, it is really stunning.

The alternative media mentioned above isn't what made the show however, and most of the show was in traditional materials. What did make the show so succesful was, as a portrait artist myself, the sheer differences in the way an artist creates portraits. It made me step back and try to figure out where my portraits would fit in the show (if they were hung there too). Were there any in nearly the style my portraits are in? The answer surprisingly was "no" and I think that would be the answer for most artists. My work would have fitted in because like all the portraits in the show - they are unique. :-)

Viewing Kehinde Wiley's piece "The Prophet and the King II" in person was a particular treat. It was huge, 6' x 8', which I knew about his work, but it never really hits you until you see these large scale works in person. What I like about Wiley's portraits is that they are unequivocally from the 21st century. Everything about it screams the here and now from the graphic patterns, bold colors and the subjects dressed in everyday (or outrageous) 21st century clothing and accessories.

That is something I would like to get in my portraits more - the here and now - even though I think my style is pretty traditional. That is why, for instance I chose to pose my daughter with the brightly colored, plastic Crayola markers. Its not much, but it is something to show it is in our world. I hope I can find a way to get this point across better in further portraits.

I planned on also writing today about an accompanying show of Chuck Close's etching portfolio, but I think I'll wait, because this post is long enough!


Lexy. said...

I like your daughter's drawing. So sweet!

She has a much better pencil hold than I do too. ;)

Jo Castillo said...

An amazing first pastel. Shucks, it is an amazing pastel period! You make me smile with such a wonderful piece.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Great review Nicole!

I love Cayce Zavaglia's work - thanks for introducing me to her.

Plus Kehinde Riley's website and paintings are something else again!

I love being introduced to new artists who are good quality.

Amy Sullivan said...

This is a beaUtiful portrait~
the other day I found your blog & spent hours(blush) reading & learning~

Nicole Caulfield said...

haha - thanks Lexy!

Thanks Jo! :-)

Katherine! I was worried about my review! Thanks - that means a lot coming from you! If you think Cayce's work is good on the net you should see it in its 3-D glory!

Thank you Amy! Welcome!

Chantell Van Erbe said...

The pastel portrait looks gorgeous, Nicole. So have you been bitten by the pastel bug? Another line of pastel pencils that you should try are CarbOthello pencils by Stabilo. Made in Germany. They are rich and have a pretty wide range of colors.

The portrait show looks interesting and I love that the curators chose to diversify the exhibit with many different styles of portraiture.

José said...


Really awsome works on that exhibition.
Your work is great, namely the skin tones and the hair.
One needs to possess a fine draughtmanship to draw a head in that tilted position.

Kind regards,