Quick sketches: Posture, portrait or personality? (Copyright 2013 Lesley Humphrey)

Woodlands Art League Gallery & Studio, January 2013.

Belly Dancer.1 14 x 18" oil on canvas.

Hello again.  Gosh, it's been 7 months since I posted on my blog.  I have been writing lessons though (which have found their way all over the globe I am surprised to say) so I've not been neglecting you.  I've been traveling, learning, living and loving life, and I hope you have too.

I enjoyed spending time with my Woodlands buddies a couple of weeks ago at the Thursday session. I just love model encounters like this one.  In costume, and with gesture and a personality that invites imagination... Lots of texture.  How lovely to paint.

Interesting thoughts, ideas and stories bounce around in my head as I listened to her Egyptian love songs in a musical style not exactly commonplace in my particular corner of Texas.  With only 20 minutes per session, rather than practice my 'portraiture', I decided to instead practice my personal response to the subject.  She gave us such wonderful poses... It would have been a shame to sit there struggling to create a likeness.  (Other painters were very good at, and enjoyed doing so... but I am woefully out of practice at rendering a likeness.)

My art students and friends wonder why don't I paint portraits, or go to posed model groups so much these days?  I find that people, when they think they're being watched or judged, 'put on a pose', as sure as they put on their clothes; both on their faces and in their bodies.  It's the 'life behind' the pose that intrigues me the most.  Think about when you watch people greet, or say goodbye to one another at an airport... They often don't "put it on" in those circumstances.  At airports, at hospitals, on vacation - wherever humans are being themselves, how people hold their bodies tells the story of their sorrows, their delight, and even give clues as to how this person feels about life.

It's the essence of life itself that I love to try to capture; How one's life and body deals with the effects of time and circumstance is etched into our gesture and in our eyes. In this world of carefully polished and trained veneers (think of recent political campaigns...) the fleeting life essence caught in authentic expression is life, caught in an instant, and precious to behold.  Rare at times, and what I love to paint... Whilst I'm 'at it', I like to leave a little bit of my own life essence/ gesture there too...

Belly Dancer.2 - 18 x 14 oil on canvas... 20 minute sketch

Belly Dancer.3 : 20 minute oil sketch on canvas by Lesley HumphreyBelly dancer, detail...It's the expression, rather than the likeness that interests me most, these days.