Public amuser


You can see them in the public places of about every major city in Europe and North America… they draw your portrait, in pastel, pencil, watercolor etc. for a (usually) modest sum. They do it in 15 to 60 minutes (no less and no more). They are talented artists or less talented (but at least dexterous with their tools, for daily practice do that to you…) and even big names did it, at a time or another: Modigliani, Picasso, Iser…


Personally, I’ve seen them (in my experience 90-95 % are men, so I do not do the he/she thing…) in cities like Munich, Paris, Avignon, Sofia, Vienna, Edinburgh, Montreal, Quebec (Quebec)… and well, there is one at least even in my residence town of Sherbrooke, Quebec (I hesitate to cite my friend Clement among the public amusers – portraitist and cartoonist – since he is not charging anything for his work; I suppose that makes him a diletante...)

The one from Sherbrooke is a very good, talented one and he does not charge a lot… Your very very modest servant, whom (I love “whom”!) writes this very post…

Yesterday, I had the chance to exercise my tremendous drawing talent, for a modest sum, in a public park were we had a fête familiale (I don’t know the exact translation of that… kind of a barbecue or picnic of the neighborhood)… In about 4 hours, I draw 16 portraits, about a third of which aren’t that bad… I intercalate some in between the text… and hope you’ll enjoy some of it…

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12 responses to “Public amuser

  1. I’ve always had great admiration for artists who do portraits, much less doing them in such a public manner! I don’t have the drawing skills to even consider such an undertaking but, but even if I did, I don’t think I’d have what it takes.

    I’m sure all the sitters enjoyed your work, if the above is a sampling.

    Do you ever start over, or do you have to just keep going if you feel it’s not going as you’d wish?

  2. I recognise, bob, I take some pride in my portrait doing, knowing that not many artists (even a lot more famous than myself whom I’m not at all famous…) would be capable (or willing) to do it…

    Especially considering I’m not even the usual portrait maker (90 % of them are: varying little, using little tricks to get the resemblance, efficient working techniques, to gain time, etc. They are rarely, in my knowledge, true talented artist, with an original streak…) I’m not modest but I think I got a little knack for this spontaneous portrait making…

    True, usually about 1/3 of my portraits are slightly wrong (usually in proportion) , 1/3 moderate and 1/3, usually very good or good…

    Unfortunatelly, I don’t seem to be able to find a place, an institution, a mecena or whatever to allow me to earn a modest living with it… Not for now… But, who know what future has in reserve?

  3. Great portraits, Danu! And it was nice to see you at work. One would think absolutely everyone would like a portrait of themselves by you. How can it be that you find no demand? People don’t know what they’re missing. Of course you would soon get tired of (or disgusted with) being the public amuser.
    You don’t stretch that paper before putting on the watercolor, do you? Those big posters on the table with all the pictures–are those samples of your work that you show the public?

  4. Thanks, Swallows! It’s not that there is no demand. It’s that I don’t have (but rarely) the occasion (the place, etc.) to do it … and if there are lot whom would like a portrait by myself there are not so many willing to pay for that… Probably I should ask for more, not to feel them they pay “too cheap”… Snobs, eh?

    No, I don’t stretch the paper (not necessary with the 140 lbs paper). I just place a masking tape to give a passe-partout at the portrait… and yes, those are samples, yes. I could make a book with all those people I portrait since 2004-2005…

  5. Wonderful portraits, Danu, as well the photo of the artist at work 😉 BTW. the ‘fête familiale’ or “a barbecue or picnic of the neighborhood”, here in New England we usually call it a “block party” or just a ‘neighborhood festival’… One of the pleasures of summer, nu?

  6. Yes, D, “neighborhood festival” fits just right. As for the pleasure, yeah, there was some pleasure involved but mostly work (16 portraits in 4 jours, pauses included). I don’t ask more than this opportunity to exercise my talent, for a decent price… but even that seems hard to get…

  7. ovidiu stanomir

    DaNu_le, sunt mai mult decit “dragutze” aceste portrete. Ma bucur pt. tine ca “esti in mana”. Daca in cea mana ai mai tine si niste “dulai”, sau mai bine un cec cu multe zerouri in coada, m-as bucura si mai mult…

  8. Un cec ar fi foarte bun, Ovidiu! As putea veni mai repede in tzara si as face oaresce bine si amicilor…

    dar astea sunt visuri si tot ce am in mana efectiv e pe ce pot pune mana…

  9. These are so cool. It must have been a lot of fun. Great job.

  10. I wish I could do this at least 2-3 times a week, bill! thanks!

  11. Oh Danu, I am so happy to see you at work outside there1 And really i love your portraits a lot! They are extremely “frais”, and somehow I can feel that you catch a lot of the personality of the portrayed person. These portraits have soul, this is the important thing. And the colours are wonderful.
    I admire you a lot for doing that, for the fact of doing it, and for the result.
    Where I liev here (or better said lived) there is a 5 stars hotel. A portraitist stays there about 2 hours the day and makes some portraits of the rich clients. Like the public amusers, but with the difference that the clients pay much more!
    Would that be an idea for you, to present yourself at such a place? You surely have this kind of hotels for rich people, haven’t you? And as you speak many languages, this a plus for you too.
    Anyway: simply wonderful!

  12. Thanks, Miki! Sans etre pas modeste (?) je crois aussi que j’ai un petit talent pour le portrait spontané… et je vais essayer de le fructifier un peu plus (la fete a seule cette année…) mème si le hotels 5 étoiles sont un peu aux dessous de ma toillete… Mais je vais essayer avec de corporatif parties et des choses pareilles… Plus de blague maintenant que j’ai le payement de la voiture, toute les 2 semaine…

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