Last week I taught a workshop at the Northlight Studio in Arlington Heights on painting the portrait with palette knives. "Resolve" is the painting that I started as a demonstration and finished in the studio. Portraits have a way of getting very detailed, and the character of the model can start to drain away as we strive for the perfect likeness. A palette knife in hand will not allow this to happen. Color and shape have to be laid in boldly. The final product can be more a piece of art than just a likeness of the model.
An artist must first of all respond to his subject, he must be filled with emotion toward that subject and then he must make his technique so sincere, so translucent that it may be forgotten, the value of the subject shining through it.”
― Robert Henri, The Art Spirit
Robert Henri (1865-1929) was an American artist and teacher who was extremely prominent in the Ashcan School of American Realism. His book, "The Art Spirit" is always close at hand in my studio. I can open that book on any page and find new inspiration to create art, no matter how flat or lost I'm feeling that day. Here is an example of Henri's work. It is evident that he is striving to portray the character of his model much more than concentrating solely on a likeness. This painting captures a feeling I think we all can respond to.
"Dutch Girl Laughing" Robert Henri