Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Some faces have many characteristic features. For a portrait painter this is wonderful news because it gives a lot of freedom to pick any combination of these features, and not worry whether the portrait resembles the owner of the face. You can play with lighting, leave out the chin, emphasize or deemphasize the eyes, etc, etc: the resemblance is always there.
On the other extreme we find those lamentable souls that have no identifying characteristics at all, men without faces. Their bland features are extremely hard to portray. Gerrit Zalm, the former Dutch Minister of Finances is a good example. I have yet to see a good portrait of him.
Interestingly, people do recognize him without problems. How can that be? Well, everything in his face is usually twitching and it is the constant movement that makes him recognizable. Good for him, but useless for a portrait painter!