Art 3 Portraits – Due Thursday 9/13


Look at both the video and web article below.

Stop animation “speed” drawing by Jonathon Linton:

Hyper realist portraits by Kehinde Wiley:  world-us-canada-19454025

In your comments, consider:

Why does Wiley re-contextualize the people in his portraits? How and why does Wiley incorporate art history into his art?

Explain the difference between a portrait that just captures a person’s likeness (like Linton’s) and one which makes a point about class, ethnicity, contemporary culture, or social interaction (like Wiley’s).

What type of portrait do you prefer?

Are there any artists that might influence you in making your self portrait or a background that you might add?


8 responses »

  1. Watching the Linton “speed” drawing, I loved the seemingly endless desire to ‘shade, then re-draw, erase, draw again, erase, shade again; repeat the process; finally draw with white, then add more black details. A confirmation that you can work and work UNTIL you capture the likeness, capture a mood/content; keep going until you FEEL right about it rather than, “okay, good enough” thinking. Perhaps Wiley approaches the likeness portion with a similar intent for capturing the likeness, BUT goes steps forward by having the ‘sitter’ engage with him how the ‘sitter’ might see himself in the context of art historical portraits that reflect time, culture, and class by inviting them into his studio, showing the sitter possibilities in art books. The aspect of contemporary goes through an almost psychological adjustment as the ‘sitter’ might even find him/her self taking advantage of an alter-ego position and identifying with a historical period or artistic style. Brilliant!

  2. Holy cow. Wow, okay, so Jonathan Linton’s portrait was amazing. He used layer after layer to make the girl’s face and it was crazy to watch but I don’t think I could stand that. I do not have that kind of patience, especially when he’d draw the gist of her face and then slightly erase it and, not redraw, but highlight certain parts and then do it again. That’s insane. I did like it but I think I liked Wiley’s work better, (at least from the picture in the article).
    Wiley’s work seems to have more of something. Personality? Maybe it’s like the question says; his incorporation of art history. I like the idea of picking a random person off the street to model and letting them choose where and what in history they’d like to be because who knows them better than themselves? The artist can look at a person and think, “Wow, this lady has awesome cheek bones and huge eyes. She would be crazy-angelic as a princess.” But that might not be the personality of the model at all and so letting them choose, I think, really influences how the piece comes out. Whether they look uncomfortable or really from that spot in history.
    Why does he re-contextualize his subjects? I think it’s much more interesting than real life. Plus, it’s symbolic. All of his subjects are African-American and like the article says, he poses them (or they pose themselves) in positions of power, strength. He’s sending a message.
    And Vermeer influences me. I look at Girl with a Pearl Earring and she just seems so sad. I love that.
    Well not that she is sad but that you can tell. You can feel her emotion.

    • I think the more you draw, the more your appetite for adjustment in a drawing. We should do a stop animation of one of your drawings someday….you may be surprised!
      In regards to Wiley, you point out an interesting dynamic where instead of the model being the artist’s muse, it is a kind of partnership with the model imagining and Wiley, the artist facilitating and participating in that inspiration.

  3. Okay, that was amazing. The Linton video, I mean. Watching him draw layer after layer after layer, seeing a face gradually form…just…wow. When I do portraits, I just do a quick gesture drawing and then fill it in. He, on the other hand, did a gesture drawing, scribbled over it in a way that somehow managed to look like a face, erased, shaded, erased again, shaded again, erased again, drew in highlights…well, you get the picture. I can’t even imagine having that kind of patience. That must have taken him so long. And the end result was simply gorgeous.

    I liked Linton much better than I did Wiley. That’s not to say that I didn’t like Wiley. His ideas were very interesting. Wiley re-contextualizes the people in his portraits to show the juxtaposition of the grand and the everyday. Also for the irony. He incorporates art history into his work by painting his subjects in the same positions as those of old, famous European paintings. He does this, again, to accentuate the juxtaposition of the banal and the ostentatious.

    I think the difference between a portrait like Linton’s and a portrait like Wiley’s is that the former exists just to be a portrait, while the latter makes a statement. Personally, I prefer portraits that simply capture the subjects’ likenesses, like Linton’s. When I look at a portrait like Wiley’s, I see only what the painter intends me to see. I think about the message, and it just feels didactic. When I look at a portrait like Linton’s, on the other hand, I see a person. This inspires me to ask questions of my own, like “Who is that woman?” and “What’s she like?” and “Why is she wearing that expression?” I like stories better than symbolism.

    Seeing Linton’s work makes me want to try to draw my self-portrait more in his style, by not outlining everything and instead just shading it in.

    • Great point you make about how a viewer interacts with a portrait, and whether a portrait invites contemplation or not. I wonder if it has to do with style also. Do you think if Wiley’s work was less sharply real, you might be able to question and wonder as well as think about the statement? Or, is the iconography and referential nature just too dominating?

  4. The Linton video was amazing! I know, I’m not the first to say it and probably won’t be the last. I loved how he continuously shaded, erased, and detailed. The adding of the white at the end was magnificent. I also really liked reading about Wiley and his style of portraiture. I think his art is certainly more creative. Both artists clearly have talent; and while I am amazed by Linton’s work I think I find Wiley’s portraits more interesting.
    Wiley’s portraits show heart and character. I love that he portrays random people he meets on the street. Although the portraits lose a personal touch, I find it interesting that WIley wants to paint random people. I think Wiley re-contextualized his pieces so that they are more personal and creative. Without the re-contextualization, they would just be another portrait style. Instead, Wiley has gone beyond the basics and created portraits with underlying themes and ideas. Wiley’s portraits make a point to depict Africans in a state of power, something he feels is an evolving idea in the world (for example, Obama as president). I think in this way he incorporates art history. I also agree with “Lackless” about the paintings being similar to those in the old European times.
    Both of these artists make me want to:
    1) Use more shading!
    2) Put a more creative spin on my portrait–something that I want to portray

  5. Very different than Linton, Wiley’s portraits really show the fun, character of each subject he paints. He also pays close attention to showing their culture and real-ness. Instead of Linton’s hope of perfection and correct face-depiction, Wiley really looks at the person through their ethnicity, context, and personality. I love his backgrounds because of the way they interact (by laying on top and behind the figure) with each person. I really liked both of these artists for different reasons. I’m jealous of Linton’s ability of creating a perfect face with a great shadowing technique and I hope to include that in my own portrait. I want to try his use of collaboration between pencil and eraser. I was always taught to never use an eraser, but to work off of your mistakes. But now i know other ways the eraser can be used to add tone and shadow. I absolutely love Wiley’s portraits because of how real and genuine she portrays the people. I hope to add different backgrounds to add personality or maybe work in something that shows my culture. Both are amazing and inspiring artists

  6. I was mesmerized by Linton’s collaboration of pencil and eraser. I watched this video over and over again, because it was amazing how he was able to create a face without any lines. His technique, of starting with shading shapes and features over and over again, was fun to watch. I’m always scared to add too much or not add enough shading to my portraits, because i have a very liney looking shading technique, but now I was to try adding more, to make the face more realistic. The only thing I dont like about Linton’s portrait is how perfect and delicate it looks, though that is nice, it doesn’t show the person’s personality or flaws, at all. Also, i was always told to never use an eraser and to always just work with my mistakes, but now this has shown me a new way to use the eraser and I want to see how it changes and develops my portrait. Linton is obviously very talented in the way he is ably to judge where the different features of the face are and the perfect proportions he creates in his portraits, but he also adds really nice tone and shadow, creating the perfect, delicate face. I was crazy watching the portrait slowly appear as the video progressed.

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