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Friday, February 09, 2007

Portraits vs. Caricatures

I've been thinking about the differences between portraits and caricatures and I realized that this caricature of me clearly shows the difference. It was done several years ago by Susan Moreno,one of my color workshop students who is a professional caricaturist. She took several photographs and sent the finished pastel after the workshop was over. My friends were horrified when they saw it, and I was taken aback, but when I got used to it, I realized it really does capture some of my characteristics. Compare it with a photo that was taken around the same time. She got the hair, the chin, the eyes (a little less smiling in the photo) and the nose is close. I'm not so sure about the chipmunk cheeks, but that makes the caricature funnier. The spindly neck is funny, too. And that's what I think caricature is about--exaggeration and humor. A portrait is a completely different animal. Apparently master portraitist John Singer Sargent got so tired of hearing sitters complain about small details in their portraits that he finally abandoned his lucrative practice of portrait painting, saying, "A portrait is a painting with a little something wrong about the mouth!" If you've ever done a portrait, you've no doubt heard something like that about your picture.

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