26 June 2014

Portrait of a Young Man...and What Martha Graham Said About It

A new portrait commission fresh off the easel..."Young Man with Cat and Coffee".  The subject is a young man of 21...the cat and coffee are his favorite things.

Young Man with Cat and Coffee 18x24" oil on linen

I don't track how long a piece takes to complete anymore, but this one took a while...at least 60 hours.  As with every painting I undertake, I learned a huge amount in the process, which makes the time spent worth it.

I like parts of this painting, but, the overall reality does not live up to my original vision.  Slight disappointment there.  That is often my response immediately after finishing a painting, when I'm still drained from the experience.  Once I recharge and get away from the painting for a while, I usually feel kinder towards it.  I'm okay with those feelings of disappointment, though.  They strengthen my resolve on the next piece. 

I had dinner with an artist friend last night.  During the conversation she mentioned a quote by Martha Graham which frames this state of frustration we artists often feel about our work...
"No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others."
 So true.

...I like the kitty...

And here is the final portrait...unified and improved by a nice frame. 


  1. Anonymous05 July, 2014

    I really love this portrait. The way the man looks at us, the pose...you really capture an emotion here.

    1. Thanks, Anon. I'm happy it resonated with you.

  2. Agreed the way the man looks straight at us and the pose has created quite an emotion. The clear precise foreground as opposed to the out of focus background gives a clear feeling of depth and perception.
    Nice Kitty.

    1. Thanks for visiting and commenting, Marla. Glad you are picking up some depth here. All important to making the entire image read.

  3. I like a man who likes cats. It is a wonderful painting.