Admittedly from the beginning this was the one class I was wary of. I even remember telling Rachel Miller, our teacher on our first meeting at the start of the year, that I was didn't quite know what to make of Portrait Painting. I can't actually remember the last time previous that I had painted anything, let alone an actual something, such as my face.
Before I go on, I want to tell you about Rachel Miller.
Rachel is a bad ass. She's got that rugged artist "I am who I am" attitude and dark blue eyes that I use to gage her mood. At times she feels like that favourite girlfriend that has no verbal boundaries and spits sugar coated darts out for words. The woman is sharp . Other moments the sugar coating just might not be available, and when she walks away you feel a little naked. She keeps me on my toes.
So this is where I was last week Monday, photo in hand standing amongst the chaos of others similar feelings on painting, while Rachel introduced us to our weeks task. Her directions were simple, get a canvas, find an easel, a brush, a makeshift palate and try out some colours. She stressed on "a little goes a long way" and "make sure to wash your brushes and cover your paints."
In regards to actual painting, all we were actually doing was first, covering our canvas, painting our edges and then "painting light and dark". Of course there was a little elaboration, but just a little, and this is how the rest of the week continued. Small mid-morning tips, and precious moments of one on one feedback that usually always came back to "light and dark".
Here are a two things I learned about myself while painting myself.
1. I am used to being taught or told how to do something, how to be comfortable.
So Rachel's class is not about comfortable, in fact I remember her saying something along the lines of, "if your scared, your probably doing something interesting". I found myself the first few days asking questions that started out with, "how do you _________?" and quickly realized that,' how' was not going to get me very far because Rachel doesn't care about how you approach the canvas. Rachel cares about helping you have the courage to step up to the canvas on the first day, and all the days following. In the end this is what I loved. I found myself wanting a pair of second eyes to let me know that my hair was "looking like a bad perm, and my eyes were a little big", but nothing more. I wanted to figure it out, even in moments where I indulged implosions of frustration. I wanted to do it myself.
2. On the second day I found myself about to blurt out, "I'm not having fun anymore". After several takes of painting over any type of shape on my canvas I was no longer laughing or feeling very good about myself. Thankfully I was able to hear these thoughts and stop my tongue from re-peating them, because not only does Rachel not care if 'I'm having fun', but I am pretty sure that none of my peers busy themselves with wrestling their emotions, cared either. And right here this is where I got it, got I, got my generation. I felt weak in this moment because this life, this work this world, it is not about simply just Fun, and for some reason this unspoken phrase seemed way to familiar. I wondered if this is what my generation has been reduced to?
-Care free, easy breezy, self entitled instant gratification fuelled by in-the-moment Fun.-
I've been sitting on this since, as I continue forward. This isn't a new thought or a new question, but it is repetitive and daunting and with every project I find myself asking again and again-
"How do I reach the generation that is today and tomorrow? How do I reach you?"
To learn more about Rachel Miller and the passion that drives her check out her site. RaeStar
And as always Portrait Painting At YIP
Scroll down to witness our process unfold. You just might be astonished by the outcomes ;)
The International Youth Initiative Program
I am a Yippie class of 2013/2014. These are findings, thoughts and captured moments of mine from here in Jarna, Sweden.