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Old 11-09-2006, 03:41 AM   #11
Bianca Berends Bianca Berends is offline
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I totally agree Tom. Especially because family and friends and so on are going to see the portrait and think that the resemblance isn't very good and they will blame it on the portrait artist and then you know that that thread for new commissions will be very thin.
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Old 06-23-2007, 05:54 PM   #12
Nancy Bea Miller Nancy Bea Miller is offline
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Asymmetry issue

Thanks Rod, for bringing up this interesting issue. So many fascinating replies! I have a slight astigmatism myself, which can lead me into unconscious painting asymmetry, so I have learned to check everything continuously in a mirrror as I go. This helps immensely. I even pack a small pocket mirror in my french easel for plein air!

Quite often though, people really DO have asymetrical faces...its not just the astigmatism at work. I guess you have to decide what to do on a case by case basis. I am currently painting a girl who has a "lazy eye". Her mother already made it clear to me they want that corrected in the portrait: the child will be having corrective surgery/therapy soon, and they hope to put the whole problem behind them. I have no problem with that. Would you?
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Old 06-23-2007, 06:33 PM   #13
Chris Saper Chris Saper is offline
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Hi Nancy,

Well, I'd probably go ahead and correct the gaze, if that's all that is creating the lazy eye. If the problem is that the lid droops, then there is an increased probability that you won't be able to foresee what the child will look like post-surgery. Will you be working with photos? Do you have the option of a three-quarter face with the lazy eye away from the viewer?

Regardless, you might want to consider that there is a possibility that you will be asked to come back in a year to "correct" the painting after the surgery. Then of course the child will be 1+ year older, and all will have changed. It would be worthwhile to discuss up front what will constitute "approval" of the portrait.

LOL, but I'd stop short of the client who says, "I'm getting a nose job, and my nose will look just like Michelle Pfeiffer's!"
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Old 06-23-2007, 08:18 PM   #14
Tom Edgerton Tom Edgerton is offline
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I agree with Chris.

My general rule of thumb is to consider a change if the condition is temporary, like the "lazy eye." I've filled in a couple of missing baby teeth lately.

A while ago, I painted pro golfer Sam Snead when he was still living, and he had very crooked teeth. I didn't change them though, as it produced a very characteristic smile and expression, and it wouldn't have been a good portrait if I had. His son later wrote me that the family thought it was the best likeness of him they'd seen.

So you have to watch the "improvements."
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Old 06-24-2007, 01:56 AM   #15
Nancy Bea Miller Nancy Bea Miller is offline
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Yikes, now I am nervous! Yes, it is just a gaze problem, no drooping lids etc. The technical term for what the child has is, I think, Partially Accommodative Esotropia. The parents did not even mention it at first and It is just barely noticeable, but of course, since I was scrutinizing the child's face so closely I noticed it. When I (very tactfully) wondered if the child's gaze was slightly misaligned then they told me about it. And yes, I am doing the portrait in 3/4 pose with the affected eye partially in shadow. So hopefully, my subtle "corrective surgery" will not really be very noticeable. Thank you Chris and Tom for your sage words of advice! I'll keep you posted.
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Old 06-24-2007, 08:27 AM   #16
Cindy Procious Cindy Procious is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nancy Bea Miller
I have a slight astigmatism myself, which can lead me into unconscious painting asymmetry, so I have learned to check everything continuously in a mirrror as I go.
Nancy - can you explain this some more? I've never heard of this - and I have astigmatism - so now I'm worried.
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Old 06-24-2007, 12:17 PM   #17
Nancy Bea Miller Nancy Bea Miller is offline
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Hi Cindy, no need to be worried! There are many different kinds of astigmatism. Sometimes it just manifest as a little blurriness. The kind I have is similar to this Wikipedia description. "Astigmatism ...in some cases vertical lines and objects such as walls may appear to the patient to be leaning over like the Tower of Pisa."

In my case I tend to pull things up and to the right with my vision, as though the image was printed on a cloth and somebody gently pulled up a little on the top right hand corner. Looking at the the work of El Greco, makes me suspect he had a similar type of astigmatism!

I recently discovered a great new way to correct for this problem. I take a digital photo of my work, open it in photoshop, and then I flip the piece horizontally. Augh! Flaws leap out like beacons. I don't know why, but it is even better than using a mirror. I use the mirror while working but at the end of a session, or after a few days, before I move on to another stage of the work, I do the photo-flip check. Fresh eyes, as Tom Edgerton put it!
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Old 05-11-2008, 03:09 PM   #18
Clayton J. Beck III Clayton J. Beck III is offline
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There are many ways to deal with asymmetry in portrait work. Much can be done with lighting and with pose. I find asymmetry in nearly every face I see. Unlike the Greeks or renaissance artists I don't find this to be "ugly". It is the normal condition of any living thing. A strong light place to one side of the face will create such an asymmetrical distribution of values and edges across the face than any asymmetry in the anatomy of the face will be overpowered. Another way to deal with this is by tilting the head at an angle or turning it away slightly. Both of these suggestions in pose we'll throw off the viewer's natural tendency to see right and left side and compare. When you really can't solve it, you can always try a profile.

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