Saturday, September 1, 2012

Fullerton College Centennial

In 2013 Fullerton College will be celebrating it's one hundredth birthday. They are planning to make it a big to-do, and rightly so, it is is the oldest continuously running community college in our state. A few artists have been asked to do portraits of significant players in the college history and I got a gal named Esther Litchfield Hatch, the first female dean at the college, back in the 30s. According to a period press release, she was young, enthusiastic and gay (the original meaning). Her duties included helping female students with their academic, financial and romantic endeavors.
I was provided with several photocopies of school paper and yearbook pictures, small and grainy and when you look at them close, all you see is dots. Its hard to do a large painting (29" X 36") from these, but the challenge was made and I met it as best I could. I picked a photo from early in her career, after all, were commemorating the fact that she was the first, no sense in picking a shot from ten years on the job. The other photos gave me the advantage of seeing how she looked in different light, from different angles and how she looked when she got older. I used these as a guide to capturing her likeness.
I gotta admit, it was rough. Just getting the facial geography right was a challenge. Eventually I used the computer to help me. I printed a copy of the original and then printed a copy of my painting over it, this told me where the painting matched the original and where it deviated. I was amazed at how close they matched. I was looking for a problem with the level of the eyes and was surprised to find the solution was in the width of the base of the nose. I hadn't looked there. Then I did a loose grid to check everything else and made a few small mods to get the desired likeness. The painting technique is a combination of traditional under-painting and glazing, some dry brush scumbling on top, then some more glazes. I really like the end result.
I'm not sure what role the painting will play in the Fullerton College centennial celebration, when I get more info I'll post it here.