Thursday, October 16, 2014

Portrait- Video Review

   Yeah yeah yeah, so I tend to use my blogs for doing homework.  I usually do so on a different one, but I am going to try to just use this one from now on- mainly because more and more of my papers will be art- related anyway.  I am taking an oil painting class this semester, and have to write a review on a video, any video that's relative.  Well, if any of you are in college, you may be aware of Films On Demand, which is an awesome resource for free educational films.  I went through and, while I found many that looked interesting, watched Portrait- a film documenting UK artist Tai-Shan Schierenberg's portrait of Lord Hartington.  
   The film was only just under 30 minutes, so it flowed smoothly and went through Tai-Shan's entire process, from his initial call to set up the meeting with his sitter, to the presentation of the finished portrait.  Narrated by the artist himself, you feel intimately into his studio. We start out with Tai-Shan leaving his modest apartment and soon arriving at Chatsworth House, a beautiful estate that also holds one of the most extensive private art collections in Britain.  Tai-Shan begins with just two three-hour sessions where he initially paints his subjects head and face only and then photographs the sitter in various poses to use as reference for a full body painting. I was surprised to see that he made no other notes and drew no sketches while with his subject.
   Back in the studio, Tai-Shan spends the next month on the large painting (approximately 4x6'.)  Tai-Shan sits in a chair at the back of his studio, often staring and contemplating the progress of his portrait.  He continuously scrapes the paint away that had portrayed the Duke's face and repainting it.  His brushstrokes tend to be large and sweeping.  His subjects hands are very large, as the artist admits he has a tendency to do, and he leaves them that way. The final portrait is quite serious and rather formal, despite the quick and casual style Tai-Shan has with his brush.  Stoker Cavendish feels in the end that his tie is quite nice, and it is hard to be objective when presented with a larger than life portrait of oneself.
  This video offered a nice peak into the day to day of a portrait artist.  He mentions the fact that about 50% of his portraits are either disliked by the sitter or their spouse, as they most likely had an image of what it should look like already in mind.  Painting royalty has changed greatly since Van Dyck and the days of Henry VIII.  History buff, art student, or anyone looking to catch an interesting glimpse into an artist's thought process should pick up this film.

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