Friday, June 7, 2013

Invisible Women

A group self-portrait in words, dedicated to and inspired by all the Ballsy Art Chicks over a certain age whom I have and have not met at Portrait Society of America conferences over the years

Judge, Jury and Executioner
From The Solon Senior Project: Judy Takács Paints Fascinating Wisdom

I am the thick bespectacled woman at the bar with the fire in her belly.

Sporting sensible business attire, I speak intelligently of the technical details of art making and can’t stop staring at the insanely delicious structure of your nose.

I sit in the unreserved back tables at the Portrait Society Awards Banquet, firmly zipped into my gala-worthy finery, spilling cleavage front and back, and I want to grab you in a headlock, knock you down and paint you…hard!

My cane, my orthopedic shoes and I and have vigilantly stood guard over my artistic vision for the better part of the last 50 years…protecting it with inner peace, a passionate voice and force only when necessary.

Cameo Appearence
From The Solon Senior Project: Judy Takács Paints Fascinating Wisdom
I came of artistic age during an era of portrait painting blight. By night I hatched secret plots with realistic eyes and noses in the shadows of artistic institutions. By day I pasted toxic smelling type to board using hot wax and aspired to someday drawing laundry-soap packages like the male artists in the next room.

I grew up painting people, but if I was lucky to be in the company of artists, I found no mentors, little instruction, and very few kindred spirits. Far from the coasts, I belonged to a Portrait Society of One. I devoured what knowledge I could from forgotten black and white Velasquez reproductions in dusty library-sale books…praying the next page would hold a color plate or a detail.

My painting grew out of this desert with influences from the masters doled out by the art gods with a stingy eye-dropper; a local Sargent show that, for 8 weeks, became my daily happy hour; a 12 hour bus ride to the Metropolitan in New York for a two hour artgasm; and then there was the serendipitous stumble of a lifetime into a room full of Egon Schiele in Vienna and a housefull of Anders Zorn in Sweden. Who were these artists, and with all my art education, why had I never heard of them? And don't even get me started on Bougereau. If I'd sold my car back in the day I could have bought one!

I have worshiped at the altar of actual Rembrandts, Cassats and Vermeers because, when I came of age there was no internet…we really knew nothing of portraiture except for what had made it into books and museums. My favorite artists were the dead ones…and of course, the illustrators—Norman Rockwell brought me to my knees— but one didn’t speak of him in polite art company.

I came of age when Impressionism was the closest thing to representational painting that could be taught by a reputable art institution. From that you quickly moved on to Expressionism, and then if you were serious about being a fine artist; pure Abstraction. There was no taking the best from both worlds, you were in one camp or the other.

Ironically, if you bucked that path, you were reactionary…not rebellious and cool whatsoever. Even in my art youth, I’m sure I was considered every bit the dowdy middle-aged lady in spectacles you see before you today because I painted people…and they looked more or less like people.

Dragonfly and Survival
From The Solon Senior Project: Judy Takács Paints Fascinating Wisdom

But here I am, many years later at the Portrait Society Conference and despite my advanced years, I don’t paint nearly as well as the twenty thirty something Finalists (not a typo, at the Portrait Society Awards there are twenty artists whose paintings have been chosen as finalists, and many of them are in their 20s or 30s). Their youthful paintings glow like the Rembrandts that I have been memorizing for 20, 30, 40 years. I believe they do realize how lucky they are to have their immense talent and drive today and not 30 years ago. Today there are Academies and Ateliers that burst with instruction and inspiration for them to launch brilliant careers painting people. And there is a growing art market that embraces realism to welcome them. Not saying it's an easy path at all, but some of the trees and pricker bushes have been cleared. Seeing what these youthful masters paint and trying to learn, beg, borrow and steal how they have achieved their miracles, well, it pours gasoline on that belly fire of mine.

And, it would seem, the time for painting people has come again. And, since the young have adopted this passion as their own, there is a strong headwind for a movement. At the Portrait Society I am surrounded by hundreds of kindred spirits and inspiration by the bucketload, but I’m thinking maybe the younger artists don’t actually see me…and unless by some lucky twist of cyber fate they have glanced at one of my facebook posts, they haven’t seen my work either.

Nonetheless, the time for me to paint my people has come. I’ve raised my children, I’ve saved some money… and, health, safety and caring for those I love notwithstanding, I’ve got 20, 30, 40 years ahead of me for this epic journey.

I am the bespectacled and thick lady with the fire in her belly and I am in the process of conquering the world…one painted soul at a time, and I will do so until the end of my time.

And maybe, my inspiring youthful peers at the next Portrait Society Conference will actually see me next year and know that I am on the same passionate people painting journey as they are…but maybe they will also remember that I’ve been on it, tripping on stones since well before there was even a path.

The Magnificent Mrs. Melzer
From The Solon Senior Project: Judy Takács Paints Fascinating Wisdom

And, why, you might ask does this blog post not include a Chicks with Balls portrait? Well, my dear readers and art patrons, the show is coming up (Friday night August 9th from 7 to 9:00 at BAYarts), and I'm slowing down the pace of his blog, because some of the paintings will remain a surprise until showtime! Be there to see them all!