Sunday, June 19, 2005


My entry for the EDM Father's Day Challenge is this watercolor I painted of my Grandad. It makes him look a bit more stern than normal; maybe he was squinting into the sun when the original photo was taken. Other family members who knew him don't like this painting very well, at least the response has been low. I like it a lot. To me, it is him, though the nose is a little longer than his was. He was a very special man to all 11 of his children and the many grandchildren he had, though most of them never knew him. He passed away in 1959. A few years ago the governor of Oklahoma recognized him posthumously by awarding as one of the pioneers in the trucking industry in Oklahoma.

Happy Father's Day, Grandad!

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  1. Hi Jim,

    I really like this painting too, though not knowing if the likeness is close, I'm drawn to the technical aspects of the painting. Your use of watercolour is confident and yet pleasingly subtle too. I really like the gradual shading on his cheeks and the vitality and strength of character you captured. This is a warm and vivid portrait which obviously means a lot to you. Well done.

  2. Thanks for your kinds words of encouragement and inspiration, Terri. He was a very special man.

  3. Portraits are my favourite challenges although I struggle with them at times. I am in awe of your talent, Jim. This is a beautiful and sensitive portrait of your grandfather and I am sure that he would be happy with it.

    Scratches & Scribbles

  4. Jim,

    I made three portrait type of paintings in the past, but several members of my family were luke warm as to whether the end result "looked like" the real person. I'm not sure that my family can appreciate a drawn rendering of a relative. They seem to desire a photo realism effort, so I understand your comment about the likeness. BUT, I loved each one, regardless of their comments, because I learned something special, something deeper about each person when I studied their features in order to produce the art. So, in the end it was a deeper awareness of each curve and crevice that made the art meaningful to me. I like the graphic quality of this piece. I am so glad you worked on this... it seems like a special project for you. :)

  5. really like the colors and shadings in this watercolor, lovely soft and subtle transitions, and especially like that you knew when to stop, by not adding color to the shirt other then the shadow under the collar, very nice.

  6. Wow, what a great portrait! Very expressive.

  7. I don't know about the likeness, of course, but I do know this is a really good, really polished painting.

  8. Really strong composition Jim. A few drawing issues - check the space between the eyes, it seems a bit narrow. Typically, there is one eye's width between the two.

    Your handling of the paint is great! Shows a lot of control. Well done my man!

  9. Robyn, Thanks so much for your kind words! I'm intrigued by the human face/body, hey - don't be in awe of my talent, it has miles to go...

    Kathleen Marie, Thank you for putting so well into words what I was trying to say. You nailed it!

    Cin, I'm pleased you noticed the "white space" for the shirt. That's exactly right, there is no paint on the shirt!

    Non-linear, (love that name) Funny, it turned out much more expressive than I planned when I started the project.

    Laura, Thank you. I took this to an instructor on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state and he said, "There's nothing I have to offer. It's complete." I liked that.

  10. Chuck, Thanks for your supportive critique. I've always thought the nose was too long, but maybe it's the eyes are too close..ya think? I did a thumbnail measurement (one eye, a straight arm, and a pencil) and it seems the distance between the eyes is the same as the width of each... But I see what you're saying...oh well. It's done; and I like it.

  11. Hi Jim,
    Its like I can't stop looking at this portrait. To me it is *gorgeous.* I love everything about it. And the color --you really have an eye for color. I haven't seen anything that I enjoyed as much as your Grandfather's portrait in a long while.

    And the rest of your work is fabulous too.

    just pat

  12. I have to agree with everyone else, the portrait looks great. The strong planes really make his face come forward for an almost sculptural quality. Like carving the paper with paint. It reminds me a little of Grant Wood, not American Gothic but some of his other stuff.

    It's funny, but as a teacher I see some of the same attitudes about portraits. I used to do this unit where the kids painted their friends. The kids being drawn would frequently object to their likeness. I would get some of them saying, "You can't show that to anybody. She made me look ugly!"

  13. Hi Kate,

    What a wonderful comparison! Thank you. I just know it ain't true though, is it? is it? lol

    We humans, and students are humans too, are so very vain; we can discern the smallest of details in anyone's face and that's why no two people look the same. Consequently, any small error in a painting/drawing sucks the eye straight to it. Only the masters seem to get it perfect, but not this mortal. Still, I think the doing is generally the most important part because it gets us closer to the essence of the object in a way no one else, or nothing else, can. (Huh? What did he say?)

  14. I love this painting. He does look stern, but have you ever known a granddad who didn't look stern sometimes? Mine sure knew how to give "the look" and they were both the greatest grans. The colors are beautiful. I hope I can do something like this someday!

  15. What terri and laura said ... great work.

  16. wow! what a powerful and gentle image! beautiful.