Despite my `anonymous' critic I continue to paint Amerindian portraits. Last week I was in Bath and called in at `Good Buy Books' a shop that sells remainders - in other words new books at greatly reduced prices. I have bought many books at the shop but this was an unusual one. I spotted a book called `Edward S Curtis' by someone called Hans Christian Adam. This was published by Taschen who, I am told by a keen photographer friend, specialize in high quality photographic books. It was £8.99p and although it did not show the original price I believe this was a fraction of it.
Edward Curtis created the largest known body of photographs of the North American Indian.devoting 30 years of his life to the subject. He has actually gained more fame in the years since his death. His most famous work is entitled `The North American Indian' which is a 20 volume series beautifully produced in a limited edition with an original price of $1000. I can't imagine what copies cost today.
When I bought the book it was encased in cellophane but when this was removed I wasn't disappointed. It has a superb collection of his photographs, a few of which I already knew but many I'd not seen before. No doubt more paintings will follow.
Espon Unzo Owa - Mohave Tribe 1903 16" x 12" Arches Hot Press
This is one of several paintings I've done on hot press, not all indians, and it certainly creates a different effect to other watercolour surfaces. Unfortunately not being an expert photographer it seems to me my paintings often lose something between photographing the original and transferring it here. Looking at the actual painting I think it better than the image above. Maybe this is just me making an excuse for my deficiencies as an artist. I keep trying.
The main problem in tackling this and other similar subjects is that the guide photos are sepia coloured and tend to be on the dark side with excessive contrast. Colours include a lot of guesswork on my part. I don't strive for a super realistic result but try to capture the subject with an impressionistic approach - the Charles Reid way. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't. I did this at the last AVA session and some of my fellow painters remarked I'd captured his likeness.
I used my small Craig Young Sketch box with Cadmium Red Light, Raw Sienna and either Ultramarine Blue or Cerulean, in various proportions, for the skin colours. Brushes were Isabey, Escoda and Rosemary travel brushes from size 4 to 10. The hair was a mixture of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber with a little Raw Umber.