View Full Version : A Fishing Sporting Portrait Commission

04-09-2000, 10:57 AM
I have done my share of portraits in the past, all by commission. Earlier in my career I would have argued tenaciously that these were "fine art" works. More comfortable in my painting nearly 25 years later, I can refer to these as illustration works, separate from that which I do as fine art.

The difference? Well..I enjoy doing portraits, but one has to work within very limited parameters and many options for free expression simply do not exist. It requires little of my interpretation, and is for the most part a labored venture. I guess we who do such fall into good company such as Rembrandt and Sargeant whom were commissioned and made their living from such.

Yet what many do not realize is that as Sargeant became financially independent, at the time he became the most valued portraitist in the eyes of the world, he walked away from it to paint landscapes, for that was his passion!

In the end..the future looks back and determines the important works, and what is deemed as "fine"

At any rate...my parameters are often limited to what if any photographic abilities anyone on hand while outdoors has when snapping a picture. Often, the images are small. Off center. Often no regard to the background has been given at all. It is totally euphoria.

The other thing we have against us, is that those closest to this individual have a picture in their mind coupled with experiential memories, and it is difficult for us to take a cold picture and bring such warmth to it.

That for me has been the challenge, and thus becomes the thrill in completion. I take some liberty which I tell potential clients beforehand to change things in the background to better frame or present the subject. Still, it has to remind them of the atmosphere and place they often love to return to again and again.

I have a number of portraits now included on my Art-Agent exhibit, but because they are not for sale, they do not show up in the search engine unless you search out my name. One will be considered controversial because they are in these modern times brutal or not PC!

One very real frustration for me has been that patrons have little if any understanding of the art of making pictures, and do not know how to look at paintings. Thus, I am (as yet) not as free to suggest detail with brushwork, and as such simply resolve to see this as a commercial venture. I try to get away with such freedom in my backgrounds.

Having said all this...take a look at this piece I did of a CEO exec whom never went fishing before in his life before going on this trip to Canada!

04-09-2000, 11:27 AM
Larry, I like this a lot. As a landscape artist (mostly) i can really appreciate the movement you've captured in the water. Are the background trees that dark? or is that just the photo? Cheryl

04-09-2000, 02:03 PM
Larry..truly, I feel your pain!! Unless someone has tried to create a "fine art" piece, filtering it through the demands of the client, they cannot relate to the problems...or the challenge! Education of the client is uppermost, if you want to do something you are not ashamed to sign your name to..however, you have a very short period of time to do that..then there is the issue of the client's ability to comprehend art/design issues..it is a real dilemma. I have always tried to see this from their side, take into consideration the color/style etc. things they want, but it is TOUGH! Especially when you "see" the painting one way...they another..afterall, they are writing the check...AND they came to YOU, rather than another artist..so they deserve your best effort. That said...and I realize your style of painting and mine are different..an' I do not work in WC much..so I will only speak to what I see. The subject is the CEO..or the fish? Emphasis vote goes to the critter..but maybe that is what the guy wanted! It/they are dead center of the composition..mebbe not your decision either..you did a great job with what you were given to work with..we often are asked the impossible..bad photos, etc. You most likely did a wonderful job for the client..super background to set off the figure..believable water, nicley turned..in my way of seeing/painting, this would be a big "edgy"...like the figure was not really in the environment..no soft edges or hard light falling on the figure for roundedness..but then again, you are captive of the photo/s provided. All in all, I think this is a Herculean effort and my hat is off!

04-09-2000, 03:04 PM
l,,,,re:your posted image....i think a lot of what you say is PARTICULARLY true with formal portraits. informal ones like your post are much more forgiving, because the "scene" is the thing. there is at least the teensiest amount of play and creativity on your part. the only portraits i have done were of this manner. they couldn't pay me enough to do a formal......well,,,,,,,,,,,almost.....milt

04-09-2000, 03:06 PM
thanks all...well, the trees appear pretty dark because the sun has created fairly dramatic shadows, is bright enough, thus reason for the dark glasses as well. Also, some of the true effect is lost when you take a 24" x 36" painting and reduce it to a 4"x 6" monitor image.

In this case...it is the moment of exhilaration that is the subject, making both the components of such (the man and fish) key, for the sake of visual perspective and prominence.

Whereas taxidermy takes the skin of a fish and stretches it over a styrofoam mold and hangs on a wall...the painting brings back a constant reliving of the experience. The "experience" is what is key...and thus the painting really is secondary, that is what I feel strikes me as important. It is more a "service" to help the individual remember that which was fond. As time goes on and it passes on to descendents, it will speak differently.

thanks for taking time to look over it...

Nothing in particular Henrik...I guess it would be interesting to take time sometime to do a portrait as I justa bout darn well am pleased to do it! take care...

04-09-2000, 04:26 PM
While I don't do portraits, I do do commission pieces such as, "This Won't Hurt Me One Bit." I too had to capture the look of the people and include items near and dear to his heart.
The advantage I have is because I don't put faces in and because my work has a humorous bent, the majority of the people give me the leeway to do what I want.
But with that said, I too find the process sometimes tedious, and because I'm not putting my own vision into the piece, I consider it also an illustrative piece.

www.artdebut.com (http://www.artdebut.com/arlene10.htm)

[This message has been edited by arlene (edited April 09, 2000).]

04-09-2000, 04:53 PM
Larry..now I understand the intent..you got it!! The client will be looking an' daydreamin' for a long time..hope you got big $$, 'cause he's most likely going to be sendin' all his fishin' buds to you for trophy paintings..lol. Sandy

04-09-2000, 07:12 PM
BTW: I really like this portrait.

04-10-2000, 12:38 AM
Larry, I have been admiring this painting as well as several others of yours at artistnation. Is there anything in particular you would like comments on?

04-10-2000, 02:59 AM
Larry, I absolutly understood that the moment of exhilaration is the true essence of this peice! I apologize for skipping over that in my post. This painting speaks clearly for itself! But as a landscape artist, i find myself automatically focusing on those things! Bad habit? Oh yeah, i'm sure!!! Cheryl

04-10-2000, 07:44 PM
Larry....This is so similar to a fishing picture (commission) I did just last month.
Mine was a night scene however, and I wish I could have had you sittin beside me !! I like the clean crispness of it all, and the freedom you were able to take with the background trees shows up well. Thanks for showing this one http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif

04-10-2000, 08:02 PM
Lovely portrait Larry..I've seen this one on your website....you're an inspiration to us all!
I can concur completely with you on the problems one has with patrons...I mean if they want a photograph..hire a photographer, thats my line anyway...excellent work Larry.

04-10-2000, 08:22 PM

What is that, a northern pike? I went on a fishing trip to Canada once, unfortunately my biggest catch looked like a minnow comparatively.

You have amazing control of your medium. Can you explain a little bit about your technique? This painting is so detailed and yet soft, parts of it feel almost airbrushed.

04-10-2000, 10:21 PM
Thanks for the responses....
well, don't know quite where to begin. First of all...yes, a 46" northern pike at that! Unbelievable.

I have developed a great deal of confidence with acrylics. After painting with them for 20 years, my only frustration is that acrylics is low on that impression scale the art world has of them. Simply not worth what oils are! While friends here tease me about my practice of painting outdoors in the snow regardless of temps...I really would have no other reason but inclement weather for painting with oils.

I like the genuine thickness of oils, and the challenge of painting acrylics is to paint it so they don't "look" plastic when dry.

As for secrets...I do share in my lessons, but really...as I look back over the past 16 months, I have probably done 120-140 paintings. Considerably more output than my works that had 120-300 hours in each to complete. Overall...compound that over 25 years of painting, and you have my secret. You make good art by making lots of it.

I think the common mistake among artist newer to acrylics is not using enough water, and building up of transparent layers for getting that soft effect.

People complain about how fast acrylic dries, but I got to a point where I had a hair blowdrier next to me because it didn't dry fast enough. It was good to get to that point because as I went back to oils, I learned to develop a routine that permits me to use oils fast.


04-12-2000, 08:06 AM
Hi Sandy...

The tops of the trees are lighter, may just be hard to tell with this jpeg. If anything you can see the slight warmer yellows and oranges. Also...trees among lakes in Canada are different kinda pines. They have less room between themselves and don't grow wide. Narrow, straight up...competiting for sunlight. Dense and hard to walk through. (yet somehow Moose seem to run through them with ease and without much attention to themselves!). Also..they all reach a certain height and stop. Many fisherman with experience fishing up there can tell right away its Canada by the types of pine shoreline. Another example is on my art-agent exhibit, "Portraits" and is simply titled, "Duane's Canadian Walleye" same trees.

Waters up there are ccccold!

"Art attacks can skill!"

Old Florida
04-12-2000, 10:10 PM
Hi Larry,
Congratulations on capturing the essence of Canadian north woods and the beauty of a splendid trophy northern pike. As an old pro you certainly rendered this moment memorable for your client who probably won't appreciate your skillful trteatment of the water but he sure will enjoy the authentic look of the fish. I would have been tempted to give him (the CEO!) a big smile instead of his rather serious expression. As a novice fisherman, he probably was exhausted after the struggle and afraid this pike would bite him.

Well done. Old Florida