We are who we paint (or write)!

So, my art teacher said something very interesting today. We were doing portraits, and she gave me a black-and-white photo of Edward Hopper (Nighthawks) to tackle. (Because she likes to set me challenges.) It was strongly lit and his eyes were scrunched up against the sun so they weren’t actually visible. OK, I’m going to get technical here. I used Indian Red for the basic skin tone, which when I was working on painting Captain da Silva got nearest to the color I wanted. Which is also the color I use when doing self-portraits, as my skin tans that kind of reddish-brown. Again, not knowing the color of Hopper’s eyes, I used Payne’s Grey (which has a hint of blue in it) — the came that I use for, guess who, myself and the Captain.

As it happens, I had guessed right, but what Wendy (my teacher) found most interesting was that I had used myself as a kind of template. Something she says often is that the colors we like to use reflect our personalities. Today she took that a bit further, and got us all to show and tell. I should mention that several others had used black-and-white photos, and the rest of the class were working from drawings and sketches by other artists. Almost everyone had painted a person with the same eyes and hair color as themselves.

I freely admit that when I write in the first person, I am using my own thoughts and a lot of my personality. But I hadn’t realized how much of the visual reflects me, as well.


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