Issue #14 | Spring 2010

The Eyes Have It

Observing the tiny details of light and shade in the eyes will bring the subject to life. Helen South, How To Draw Eyes.

There are two sets of eyes in every portrait, the eyes of the subject and the eyes of the artist.

The subject’s eyes we could call “the window to the soul”. Through the expressiveness of the eyes most human communication takes place. The eyes speak silently, but convey a myriad of nuance.

Really though, the eyes are sensory organs, they deliver information with- out opinion. It is the flesh around the eyes that moves and so creates and conveys expression. The startled lift, the narrowed gaze and the smiling corners are the curtains of the soul. The moving curtains, in time, become a person’s look. Those crinkles we don’t like to see in the mirror are pure gold to the artist.

The artist’s eyes deliver information; the artist’s hands must render it as accurately as possible. Where are the areas of light and shade? Where are the hidden muscles that create the gaze? What is it that defines this person’s look? Larissa Doll describes feeling with her eyes and Ada Lovmo tells us she looks at the face and sculpts it with her chalks. To Janet Enfield, it comes down to having the subject’s eyes look back at her from the portrait. Then she knows she’s not only accurate; she hasn’t just captured the person. They have captured her. The eyes in a series of Darcy Jackson’s por- traits not only looked back at her, they looked into her, revealing a map of her journey as a painter and as a person.

Mediate/Meditate by Ed Bader is the exception here that proves the rule. We rarely see his subjects’ eyes. An absence of expression highlights these people’s detachment from those around them and their extremely tight focus on abstract messages from afar. The curtains are open only just enough to let in the information they desire.

Meticulous observation by the artist is required to translate light and shade into an eye, a window to a soul, a person we can recognize. The observed play their part as they live and breathe, as they open or close their curtains. There must be a third pair of eyes to complete any picture; the viewer looks, believes and in a blink the portrait comes to life.


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Every Picture Tells a Story

Janet Enfield

[caption id="attachment_512" align="alignright" width="166" caption="Wisdom of the Ages, Janet Enfield"]" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/jenfield.jpg"> " rel="nofollow" target="_blank">http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/jenfield.jpg"> alt="" width="166" height="250" /> [/caption]There is a lot more to a Janet Enfield portrait than a face represented in two dimensions. Through her series, Wisdom of the Ages , Enfield is painting to express a legacy.No one under age 80 is included in the series, which will show at the Prairie Gallery in April. The Wembley artist started with portraits of her grandmother and grandmother’s sisters and since has expanded it to include a total of thirty portraits.In order to create a context for the paintings, which include the person and some images and colours that relate to their life story, Enfield visited her subjects, photographed them and asked them to fill out a questionnaire.“I wanted to find out their favourite colour, favourite fruit, favourite animal,” she says. “Even a saying they always say.” She also asked them what they miss about the past and what they like about now and tried to put those feelings into her 24”x36” portraits.Enfield admits that painting some portraits felt like a fight. “But when I’d be painting along and get lost, sometimes I’d look up and I could feel the person looking back at me,” she says, “that’s what really hooked me.”

Edward Bader

[caption id="attachment_511" align="alignright" width="196" caption="Mediate/Meditate, Edward Bader"]" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/jenfield.jpg"> " rel="nofollow" target="_blank">http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/jenfield.jpg"> alt="" width="196" height="250" /> [/caption]“I finally found a way to integrate drawing and love of colour,” says Grande Prairie artist Ed Bader of his recent series Mediate/Meditate .Based mainly on subjects Bader sketched on the bus or in public spaces, Mediate/Meditate shows us people going about their daily business while using cell phones, ipods or games.“I looked at their whole body language,” Bader explains. “They are communicating but oblivious to their surroundings.”Bader’s goal was to use a flat ground with patches of high key colour and add the linear elements last. “This is very much the reverse of most painting, “ he says. “As the consequence of thirty years of ink on paper, it was do or die by the drawing.”The greatest challenge of painting the series, which Bader spent a year or so creating, was to be accurate in terms of proportion and gesture. The ultimate reward was his sense that the colour and harmony worked. Mediate/Meditate , which was on display during November and December, 2009 in the Courtyard Gallery at QE II Hospital, Grande Prairie, consists of 4x5 foot acrylic canvasses and some small works, including watercolours built into multi-subject collages.

Darcy Jackson

[caption id="attachment_510" align="alignright" width="250" caption="Copperlily, Darcy Jackson"]" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/jenfield.jpg"> " rel="nofollow" target="_blank">http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/jenfield.jpg"> alt="" width="250" height="175" /> [/caption]Usually, Darcy Jackson has a lot of information about the subjects of her portraits, but her Copperlily series, which she has returned to again and again over the last 15 years, is based solely on visual impressions of a person she’s never met.“For a commission I talk to the person and find out their loves and passions,” she explains, “I want to know their philosophy of life and then show them their story illustrated.”Jackson, who now lives in Tumbler Ridge and is self-taught, began by painting portraits of young children. “At that time I lived on the West coast among families from different nationalities and I began to enhance the portraits with animals and imaginative images,” she says.The chance gift of a photo collection depicting Yukon natives connected Jackson to one subject in a very unexpected way. Over the years of painting Copperlily , Jackson began to notice that she was filling in the woman’s story without intending to.“I noticed that in my first painting the eyes have such pain. Seven years later there’s wisdom and acceptance,” Jackson says. “The third has such a sense of peace. Surely this is just a reflection of my own journey.”
8 years ago

Every Picture Tells a Story

Janet Enfield

[caption id="attachment_512" align="alignright" width="166" caption="Wisdom of the Ages, Janet Enfield"]" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/jenfield.jpg"> " rel="nofollow" target="_blank">http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/jenfield.jpg"> alt="" width="166" height="250" /> [/caption]There is a lot more to a Janet Enfield portrait than a face represented in two dimensions. Through her series, Wisdom of the Ages , Enfield is painting to express a legacy.No one under age 80 is included in the series, which will show at the Prairie Gallery in April. The Wembley artist started with portraits of her grandmother and grandmother’s sisters and since has expanded it to include a total of thirty portraits.In order to create a context for the paintings, which include the person and some images and colours that relate to their life story, Enfield visited her subjects, photographed them and asked them to fill out a questionnaire.“I wanted to find out their favourite colour, favourite fruit, favourite animal,” she says. “Even a saying they always say.” She also asked them what they miss about the past and what they like about now and tried to put those feelings into her 24”x36” portraits.Enfield admits that painting some portraits felt like a fight. “But when I’d be painting along and get lost, sometimes I’d look up and I could feel the person looking back at me,” she says, “that’s what really hooked me.”

Edward Bader

[caption id="attachment_511" align="alignright" width="196" caption="Mediate/Meditate, Edward Bader"]" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/jenfield.jpg"> " rel="nofollow" target="_blank">http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/jenfield.jpg"> alt="" width="196" height="250" /> [/caption]“I finally found a way to integrate drawing and love of colour,” says Grande Prairie artist Ed Bader of his recent series Mediate/Meditate .Based mainly on subjects Bader sketched on the bus or in public spaces, Mediate/Meditate shows us people going about their daily business while using cell phones, ipods or games.“I looked at their whole body language,” Bader explains. “They are communicating but oblivious to their surroundings.”Bader’s goal was to use a flat ground with patches of high key colour and add the linear elements last. “This is very much the reverse of most painting, “ he says. “As the consequence of thirty years of ink on paper, it was do or die by the drawing.”The greatest challenge of painting the series, which Bader spent a year or so creating, was to be accurate in terms of proportion and gesture. The ultimate reward was his sense that the colour and harmony worked. Mediate/Meditate , which was on display during November and December, 2009 in the Courtyard Gallery at QE II Hospital, Grande Prairie, consists of 4x5 foot acrylic canvasses and some small works, including watercolours built into multi-subject collages.

Darcy Jackson

[caption id="attachment_510" align="alignright" width="250" caption="Copperlily, Darcy Jackson"]" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/jenfield.jpg"> " rel="nofollow" target="_blank">http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/jenfield.jpg"> alt="" width="250" height="175" /> [/caption]Usually, Darcy Jackson has a lot of information about the subjects of her portraits, but her Copperlily series, which she has returned to again and again over the last 15 years, is based solely on visual impressions of a person she’s never met.“For a commission I talk to the person and find out their loves and passions,” she explains, “I want to know their philosophy of life and then show them their story illustrated.”Jackson, who now lives in Tumbler Ridge and is self-taught, began by painting portraits of young children. “At that time I lived on the West coast among families from different nationalities and I began to enhance the portraits with animals and imaginative images,” she says.The chance gift of a photo collection depicting Yukon natives connected Jackson to one subject in a very unexpected way. Over the years of painting Copperlily , Jackson began to notice that she was filling in the woman’s story without intending to.“I noticed that in my first painting the eyes have such pain. Seven years later there’s wisdom and acceptance,” Jackson says. “The third has such a sense of peace. Surely this is just a reflection of my own journey.”
8 years ago

Every Picture Tells a Story

Janet Enfield

[caption id="attachment_512" align="alignright" width="166" caption="Wisdom of the Ages, Janet Enfield"]" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/jenfield.jpg"> " rel="nofollow" target="_blank">http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/jenfield.jpg"> alt="" width="166" height="250" /> [/caption]There is a lot more to a Janet Enfield portrait than a face represented in two dimensions. Through her series, Wisdom of the Ages , Enfield is painting to express a legacy.No one under age 80 is included in the series, which will show at the Prairie Gallery in April. The Wembley artist started with portraits of her grandmother and grandmother’s sisters and since has expanded it to include a total of thirty portraits.In order to create a context for the paintings, which include the person and some images and colours that relate to their life story, Enfield visited her subjects, photographed them and asked them to fill out a questionnaire.“I wanted to find out their favourite colour, favourite fruit, favourite animal,” she says. “Even a saying they always say.” She also asked them what they miss about the past and what they like about now and tried to put those feelings into her 24”x36” portraits.Enfield admits that painting some portraits felt like a fight. “But when I’d be painting along and get lost, sometimes I’d look up and I could feel the person looking back at me,” she says, “that’s what really hooked me.”

Edward Bader

[caption id="attachment_511" align="alignright" width="196" caption="Mediate/Meditate, Edward Bader"]" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/jenfield.jpg"> " rel="nofollow" target="_blank">http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/jenfield.jpg"> alt="" width="196" height="250" /> [/caption]“I finally found a way to integrate drawing and love of colour,” says Grande Prairie artist Ed Bader of his recent series Mediate/Meditate .Based mainly on subjects Bader sketched on the bus or in public spaces, Mediate/Meditate shows us people going about their daily business while using cell phones, ipods or games.“I looked at their whole body language,” Bader explains. “They are communicating but oblivious to their surroundings.”Bader’s goal was to use a flat ground with patches of high key colour and add the linear elements last. “This is very much the reverse of most painting, “ he says. “As the consequence of thirty years of ink on paper, it was do or die by the drawing.”The greatest challenge of painting the series, which Bader spent a year or so creating, was to be accurate in terms of proportion and gesture. The ultimate reward was his sense that the colour and harmony worked. Mediate/Meditate , which was on display during November and December, 2009 in the Courtyard Gallery at QE II Hospital, Grande Prairie, consists of 4x5 foot acrylic canvasses and some small works, including watercolours built into multi-subject collages.

Darcy Jackson

[caption id="attachment_510" align="alignright" width="250" caption="Copperlily, Darcy Jackson"]" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/jenfield.jpg"> " rel="nofollow" target="_blank">http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/jenfield.jpg"> alt="" width="250" height="175" /> [/caption]Usually, Darcy Jackson has a lot of information about the subjects of her portraits, but her Copperlily series, which she has returned to again and again over the last 15 years, is based solely on visual impressions of a person she’s never met.“For a commission I talk to the person and find out their loves and passions,” she explains, “I want to know their philosophy of life and then show them their story illustrated.”Jackson, who now lives in Tumbler Ridge and is self-taught, began by painting portraits of young children. “At that time I lived on the West coast among families from different nationalities and I began to enhance the portraits with animals and imaginative images,” she says.The chance gift of a photo collection depicting Yukon natives connected Jackson to one subject in a very unexpected way. Over the years of painting Copperlily , Jackson began to notice that she was filling in the woman’s story without intending to.“I noticed that in my first painting the eyes have such pain. Seven years later there’s wisdom and acceptance,” Jackson says. “The third has such a sense of peace. Surely this is just a reflection of my own journey.”
8 years ago