One “Red-Head-Little-Mermaid-Girl” or Another Maternity Study

Kirstin. Acrylic on canvas. 8" x 10"
Kirstin. Acrylic on canvas. 8″ x 10″

A mini portrait of my cousin Kirstin, preparing for her first baby, who will arrive in the next few weeks. I first met toddler-Kirstin at a wedding – she was a curly-haired fireball in a white skirt, and we tore it up. Growing up, Kirstin and I sketched gargoyles, invented games with old tools in the garage, pretended to be mer-children, strung wild daisy-chains, plucked handfuls of Indian paintbrush bouquets for Grandma, terrorized our little sisters, hiked in the mountains, and choreographed dances to Disney movies, Ace of Base. The hard, inevitable facts of growing up make these kid memories sweeter. In reflection, these scenes seem to be from a different place – an alternate reality bordered by long hours, long summers, recesses, a cabin in a valley, and family gatherings with Kirstin’s mom’s fabulous cheesy potatoes. Despite the oft-bleak adversity of adult life, not all is lost – when we catch up today, we revert to our goofy childhood selves. Thankfully, we can remember. Mostly, we laugh!

For me, portraits are always most vexing in the peculiarities of facial features. As the composition gets smaller, the relative challenge of creating a recognizable likeness becomes compounded. Minuscule variations or wanderings in line, shape, shadow, or hue can render the face anonymous, wooden, mask-like, or contrived. In this piece, I had to rework this face several times in the original line drawing and under-painting. I’m satisfied the end result didn’t end up a muddy puddle exposing the battery of revisions!

Other explorations with this portrait unfold in the background. I am concerned with color and a balance between abstraction and representation, hoping for an aesthetically pleasing portrait and visually intriguing piece of art.

This painting was interpreted/appropriated from a gorgeous photograph, credit to Kellie Mitchell of Mitchell Photography.

Kirstin under-painting
Kirstin under-painting

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