Monday, January 24, 2011

The Stories We Tell: Power, Part I

Power Tie 20x24 oil by Shirley Fachilla

One of the most enduring painting themes is the story of power. Kings, emperors and presidents want to be shown as worthy of rule in their portraits. The desired look seems to be regal, strong, often bejeweled and always above the fray.
But sometimes the story told is definitely not the power story intended. Velazquez's Pope Innocent X is considered by many to be the greatest of all portraits. But it's great not because the Pope seems omnipotent, but rather because he's shown as all too human. Did Innocent realize that Velazquez's work let everyone who looked see him honestly?
And then there's Charles IV of Spain. Goya as court painter shows us a royal family of decidedly ordinary, quite dull-looking individuals distinguished only by their clothes. Could King Charles have failed to recognize that rather than ennobled he was reduced?
Though the guy in my painting does wear a power suit and tie, I suspect he's just interviewing for the job. He was painted from life in open studio.


  1. L'habit ne fait pas le moine...
    Malgré son costume votre personnage dépeint une grande incertitude...
    Belle et généreuse peinture.

  2. Thank you, Martine. Certainly clothes do not make the man.
    Thanks, Dana. It's wonderful to have a guy who'll pose for open studio especially one who's willing to play dress-up.

  3. Hi Shirley. I live in Maine, so yes chances are I will be here when you come in August! Where are you going?

  4. Shirley, your portrait is wonderful and it has all the qualities that make it outstanding. The sitter and the viewer both will agree on this.

  5. Thank you so much, Nora.
    Susan, we'll be taking the ferry over to Monhegan Island some days.


Is it too early to send an invitation?

Pieces by (clockwise from left to right) : Susan Harlan, Janet Garner, Shirley Fachilla, Mike Martino and Topper Williams. So many ...