Thursday, February 07, 2008

GYST Software

In my never-ending quest for professional improvement, I've decided to give this "artist-run company for artists" a chance. I've bought their software for $149., a filemaker database customized to the needs of professional artists. There weren't reviews on the web to help me pick this one from among four or five other contenders, so I had to choose based on minimal descriptions of the features on each website. Some companies had great screen shots to give you a sense of the interface, others, none. GYST had the most comprehensive and informative display on its web site, and what they offer seems to be geared at my needs for the moment, which are to set up and organize my art business. So stay tuned for an account of my trials and tribulations transferring my art inventory and mailing list to the program, as these are the first two tasks I will attempt.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Immigrant Portraits

I have been painting Latino immigrants for a few months now. Sometimes they bring each other, or I hire them from the neighborhood. They pick their clothes and the pose. I pay them by the hour. At the end of the day I take a photograph print it, sign it, and give it to them. They sign a release and take a copy home. Once they leave, I might finish the background, but I don't tend to work on their image much more. Each painting takes 1-2 sittings, and a total of 5-10 hrs.

I do it in part because they are underrepresented in formal portraiture. I have always done portraits of people of color in oil. But until I saw the portraits of African Americans that Beverly McIver was showing at a show in Sacramento, I did not understand what exactly was it that I was looking for. I wanted to give the sitters exactly the same choices someone with more means might have had had they commissioned a portrait from me, but I also wanted to have more emotional involvement in those portraits. I also wanted to give them the experience of sitting for a portrait in which they would not be treated as the exotic other.

This oil is the latest of seven I have completed so far, measuring 24 x 36". The 12 x 16" charcoal drawing was done as part of a figure drawing session, and not as a study for the painting.