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Artist offers his philosophy of figures

POSTED: June 23, 2010 6:29 p.m.
/For The Times

Artist Charles Young Walls will give a demonstration on painting portraits tonight at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center.

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In a high-tech, digitally driven world, it’s hard to imagine taking the time to carefully paint a person’s likeness. For artist Charles Young Walls, that’s just the point he wants to drive home during a two hour demonstration tonight.

In tandem with his show “Transitions,” the accomplished artist will give a “blazing” fast tutorial on a vast subject at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center. And while there won’t be time to get into the nitty gritty details, Walls promises to deliver his take on “capturing character.”

“I will show how I begin a portrait and discuss my thinking as I proceed. The demonstration is only two hours, so there won’t be time for much subtlety, but I will show one of the ways I paint a portrait sketch from life,” he said.

“A portrait is to my mind one of the more difficult things to paint and paint well, with sensitivity and insight. There is simply much more involved and there is not much room for error.”

The demonstration is free and Walls said it will be for anyone with an interest in art, not just artists.

But a basic understanding of drawing is still the foundation of any good portrait.

“Often students will say they want to paint portraits and I say to them, first understand basic drawing and painting skills, then study the figure and know it well, then consider portraits and portraiture,” said Walls.

Walls, who holds an art degree from Arizona State University and studied at the National Academy of Design in New York City, is also a member of the Portrait Society of America  as well as several other notable arts societies.

While not primarily a portrait artist, he enjoys painting them from time to time.

“I like painting people and portraiture is one way to express that,” he said.

The artist stresses that “any painting whose primary subject is a person or persons is a portrait,” thus not all portraiture is by commission.

“It is an extension of representational figure painting,” he said.

Still, he said, there must be some reason people spend thousands of dollars on oil portraits versus a photograph.

The reason? After his demonstration, it should be clear.

“I believe it imperative to spend as much time as possible with the subject to know them better than a short visit with a camera could ever attain,” Walls said.

How is it possible to gain any insight into a person without spending time and chatting as sittings progress?”



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