Monday, January 9, 2012

Awkward Man Dancing 1996

Many of my images have been portraits of friends or people I meet that I find visually interesting.  Except for my husband and my daughters (and a few other kind and brave souls), people are usually not overly excited about what I do to them, and in certain cases, my paintings have aroused anger and confusion for the subjects of these portraits. I would make the image, show it to the person with great excitement and anticipation, knowing that they were going to love this painting as much as I did.  Then I would  watch their faces as they looked away or laughed uncomfortably.  By now I've learned to show people these portraits very casually, so that when they do look away we don't have to attach much importance to it.

This portrait is of a good friend and colleague, James Baker, who I have know for over 25 years.  I first met Jim when he invited me to do a workshop at Anderson Ranch in Colorado http://www.andersonranch.org/workshops/courses/faculty_search.php  . When I did this image I was trying to get at something that I knew about Jim that I don't think I could have articulated until I did the painting:  Jim is a very smart and very capable man, but I think his strongest, most wonderful quality is his honesty.  Truman Capote once talked about a man who was the same on the outside as he was on the inside, and that's what I always felt about Jim.  The way it translated visually is that the figure has a quality of awkwardness, or goofiness, a reflection of that honesty.  He is one of those people whose laugh makes you laugh because it's such an unexpected sound, loud and funny. Most of us work hard at trying to hide those parts of ourselves that are different or not acceptable. So to know someone like Jim is truly a gift.

1 comment:

  1. Ahh, Holly, you are so insightful and lovely and wise. You captured Jim perfectly and beautifully and the title moves me to tears. Nice work. Your always, Laura

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