“Every time I paint a portrait I lose a friend”
-John Singer Sargent
Funny quote there from Mr. Sargent. I think we all know what he’s implying about the nature of portraiture, artists and sitters, honesty, and, well, delicate egos. Christine Beck, however, can rest assured that I shall happily remain her friend after this portrait she painted of me over the summer. In fact, I think I’m officially her best friend! I was posing for John Wellington’s class at the New York Academy of Art, and while all of John’s students did a marvelous job during the eight sessions, Christine created a work of great sensitivity and depth.
This was a standing pose and not nude. But Chris wisely followed her artistic instincts and decided to paint just my portrait. Portraiture inhabits its own exclusive category of art, as it should, since portrait painting brings it’s own set of unique challenges. Based on the above quote, John Singer Sargent understood those challenges well, and apparently suffered the consequences! Poor guy.
Maybe it’s because I’m a professional art model, or just reasonably secure as a person, but I have rarely seen portraits of myself that I’ve found offensive or insulting. In my entire career, I can recall maybe two or three that were, let’s say seriously unflattering. (I’m not including the ones that were just badly painted because that would be unfair.) But I can see how a non-model person, especially a vain one, would have sensitivity issues with artists’ renderings of them.
By the way, I didn’t choose this post title to be a smartass. I am a lady. No, really I am. I am, I swear! Yeah, that’s right. Everyone stop laughing!! I iz a lay-deee, dammit!!! 😆
So let’s celebrate the wonders of portrait painting, and contradict the great John Singer Sargent. Here I am by Christine Beck. Thanks Chris!