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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mugshot 75 for John M.

I have been wrestling with this one for a while. The first one, smaller, I think 8 inches square, was a sort of quick practice to see what I was up against. I got, as usual, the face too short, primarily in the nose to eye section. (My own face is short there and this poisons my eye.) But I just forged ahead anyway, playing a bit with the color. This is an actual mugshot of an alleged criminal and the photos are usually very bad, but this one did have a violent blue background that was interesting. I also was reading a borrowed book on Marsden Hartley at this time and fell hard for him  and his painting. Do not want to give up this book! One of the many interesting things discussed was the way he related everything to the color black.  And also, there was the idea of the elegy.  Many of the strongest paintings of his seem elegiac. I LOVE NOIR! So - between the blue one and the one above, I tried to figure how I would deal with the element of sorrow that I find in almost all real mugshots. They are either mournful or mournfully funny.  Actually mournfully funny is of the first order.
On to the second one, above the blue one. I tried to keep it mournful. Meh. Not so interesting.  In the third one, the top,  I lightened the background some so his hair would come forward and gave myself over to the color in skin. Lots of yellow and yellow green, although I tried to keep it to a purple/yellow range mostly. So now I'm sick of the whole thing. However, today I decided I would try ONE LAST TIME and paint a primitive painting (a la Marsden, my man) in which I did not worry about likeness or anything else but just whacked it in for the pure fun of it.  I am halfway done with it, will finish up tomorrow.  The thing is, this guy has such a beautiful mouth, it is so exciting to paint it. Maybe in the last painting I can do it justice.


  1. Amazing, Jean. I like to hear your thoughts on what you are doing.

    I saw some of Marsden's work in Arizona and it's fabulous. I've not read much about him, but now you have me interested. Can't wait to see your next mug!

  2. Beautifully done! He seems so real and hurt, suffering and belligerent at the same time. Love seeing the evolution of these three and reading your thoughts, trying to see and understand your color shift.
    My aim lately is to not worry about likeness, just focus on paint but I keep sliding back to unconsciously worrying about likeness. Looking forward to seeing your "primitive" version.