Detail of Likeness, a 24x12 oil by Shirley Fachilla done in open studio.
I paint in an open studio every Monday with a live model. Because I’m not really a portrait painter and because I’m trying mostly for a good painting, my work often does not end as a good “likeness.” This time, however, I think the likeness is there, at least physically.
But though it captures her look, it doesn’t show the real girl. It doesn’t reflect her sweetness, her gentle nature, her patience…the list could go on! In some of my other paintings of her, it seems to me that those un-seeable attributes are quite apparent.
Maybe one day I’ll be able to combine the two, the likeness and the inner person. It’s certainly something to strive for.
When faulted for not achieving a “likeness,” John Singer Sargent famously commented that in a hundred years, the lack of a likeness wouldn’t matter at all. No one would know; no one would care. It was a good “painting” and that would grant both the painting (and the sitter) their portion of immortality.