Tag Archives: portraits

Ugly Van Gogh’s, Monstrous Children


Every artist, even the geniuses, have their bad days.

Van Gogh did have them too, of course. And I’m talking only of the normal bad days, not the psychotic crisis bad days…

When that happened ugly painting resulted. There are a few of those in his almost one thousand catalogued paintings. Shall we love him less for that matter? of course not. The ugly paintings make him only human. And makes us kind of courageous since, usually, nobody dares to speak of those…not to diminish the genius…not the diminish the market value, also, maybe…

Anyway, here are some of Vincent’s ugly ones, the one I detest most being his cows…

Oh! les vaches!

Oh! les vaches!

Some even doubted the paternity of this painting. The local colors (except for the yellow sky, everything is depressingly local color: the cows are burnt sienna, the grass is depressingly green… I didn’t see any signature (“Vincent”) on this ugly cows, ugly painting…I wouldn’t sign it either… Of course, Vincent painted a lot, very quickly and sometimes, well, sometimes it was a flap study… Because, with a genuine modesty, he was calling most of his paintings “study”…

Then, there are the children’s portraits… (by the way, the “monstrous” from the title is not meant for his children’s portraits but for another genius children…Henri “Le Douanier” Rousseau…) Here there are some of them… None too beautiful and for certain not Vincent’s cup of tea…

Relatively ugly children's portrait by Vincent

Relatively ugly children’s portrait by Vincent

It is a Auvers sur Oise painting, one of the 70-72 paintings he produced, at a rhythm quite exceptional…He did mostly portraits and landscapes (probably more landscapes since he always had trouble in finding willing models for his portraits; usually, for money…) There is a thing about Vincent’s portraits. He declared more than one time his passion for the “modern” portrait and gave a lot of importance to the subject. Some of his greatest works are portraits, the famous Dr Gachet, Dr. Rey’s portrait, etc. The thing is well documented, though. With Dr. Gachet’s exception (but dr. Gachet was in himself a queer birdie…) very few of Vincent’s models appreciated the finished work… A good sample is Dr. Rey’s portrait (a very good one by today’s standards) which ended as a chicken’s den repairing material! the parents of Dr. Rey detested his representation of their son…)

But neither Adeline Ravoux (you see his portrait below) nor Marguerite Gachet were enchanted by their image…

Adeline Ravoux portrait

Adeline Ravoux portrait

Truth to be told, I kind of dislike it too, especially the color of her skin… it looks like that of a cadaver after staying in water for a week or two… Nor did Adeline liked the other portrait of hers…

Second portrait of Adeline R.

Second portrait of Adeline R.

Truth to be told also, Gauguin had the same problem. For instance, his portrait “La Belle Angèle”, a gift he gave to his landlady in Bretagne, was not at all considered as a successful representation of the lady and rejected …

La belle and mean angele

La belle and mean Angele

Of course, model’s tastes were, more often than not, very conventional and a lot of feminine vanity was (as always) involved… I had myself this situation, as a street portrayer, for instance with this old lady which considered herself ill-reproduced (I’ve tried to draw only a small fraction of her many wrinkles and creases…)

My refused portrait of and old hag

My refused portrait of and old hag

Imagine that she asked to be refunded the measly 7 $ in change she paid for this portrait… Oh, vanitas vanitates! (or something like that…)

Anyway, the most unsuccessful portraits were the children ones…The one with the twins is one of them…

the ugly twins

the ugly twins

The brick color of the faces, the forced smiles, the very old looking hands…ok, not the most brilliant representation of children… True, this is a genuine Vincent, with his style well imprinted on the painting… Still, his children are kind of sinister… Speaking of sinister and monstrous children, Rousseau’s children come to mind… here there are some eloquent samples:

Arse on rock picks "children" by Le Douanier Rousseau

Arse on rock pick “children” by Le Douanier Rousseau

Shy little ? girl

Shy little ? girl

queer child

queer child

These were commissioned works, I think, and I don’t know how they were received and if the clients payed their due… If one wanted a nice, cute portrait of their child, I wouldn’t have advised Rousseau as the man for the job… Even if, the thing has to be said, these paintings are perfect; perfect colors, perfect composition, perfect harmonization and unity… Well, the design is not conventionally perfect but yes, these paintings, considered from an objective point of view (not from parents’ point of view…) are great, perfect paintings… strange, of course, even sinister, a bit…but perfect…

Back to Vincent’s portraits… Some say Vincent’s works in his Auvers sur Oise period were uneven… They were, as it happens. Nobody, no genius, can always produce masterpieces. These are a hard thing to come by.

And Vincent has plenty of them even in his last 2 months of life. No shame and no blame in producing some less enjoyable (at least for the models or the model’s parents – a long time dead and buried anyway…) portraits and cow’s rare end portraits… All those make Vincent more human, more close to us, imperfect, non-geniuses painters…

The Advantages of Living in a Very Old City


One of the main advantages, the one I’ll illustrate for you: there are a lot of festivals, events, exhibition and you can imagine yourself living in more than one epoch…

These are photos I took the last 4-5 days at the Medieval Festival. Very easy to imagine oneself living in that epoch in a city like Sibiu (Hermannstdt). Downtown, everywhere you turn old houses and chrches and fortifications reminds you of the time of Draculya, Vlad the Impaler…

An ancient flame lighting system

An ancient flame lighting system

…and some very old and particular skills: hawk and owl tamming…

A Hawk landing for its reward - raw meat...

A Hawk landing for its reward – raw meat…

Landing Hawk fltrdAnd you meet old friends…

Nelu, sometimes a guitar player and an old friend

Nelu, sometimes a guitar player and an old friend

or beautiful young women… dressed in the Renaissance fashion…

Dulcinee from Basarabia

Dulcinee from Basarabia

The Beauty and the little and cute beast

The Beauty and the little and cute beast

Eventually, if you are lucky, you can catch some pretty funny characters, like this swarthy guy, trying to improve his looks wearing a helmet…

A man with rather bad teeth trying a Medieval Iron Helmet

A man with rather bad teeth trying a Medieval Iron Helmet

Or some bored medieval dressed vendors, tired at the end of the 3rd day of Festivities…

Boredom, medieval fashion and...electricity cable...

Boredom, medieval fashion and…electricity cable…

So, one did not get easily bored in Sibiu…lots of things to see and experience…You should try it (and No, the tourist board doesn’t pay me nothing; but this is my native town and I’m surely proud of it).

Army Stuff and More


My mother died recently, at 87. I’m staying with my father now, trying to make his life easier, in my old hometown of Sibiu, Translyvania.

Going through old books and photos I’ve found a 37 year old sketchbook with my drawings from the army. I was a regular soldier for 18 months in Lugoj, Banat. A nice little town I liked very much since a lot of things were just like in Sibiu. I didn’t liked the army but I loved my time in Lugoj, in the spare moments…

To my surprise, almost all the drawings are portraits, some quite good, all interesting, for me, the present day me. I kept a journal and it seems that doing portraits was one of my main interests then as it is now… Danu the Portrayer… I forgot, truly, that my “vocation” , my interest in portraying humans, was so old… I shouldn’t be that surprised but I was, and pleasantly surprised… It seems I’m capable of some perseverence and coherence, after all…

Here are some of this drawings, starting with some self portraits.

autoportr 23 vi 78 b

autop 11 xii 77

autoportret zebrat 20 mai 78

Here are some other portraits, usually army friends, sergeants or such…

bestial

And this was my army barack…

cazarma

A satiric sketch…

hash

In fact, in the last few months of my service, there was almost a kind of a vie de bohème, our political officer forming a group of “artists” (myself  being one of them and the host, I was also the librarian of the unit). We did only drawing and painting for the last 2-3 months, painting all kind of kitsch stuff for the officers and a different kind of kitsch (political) for the “Cantarea Romaniei” (a patriotical-political artistical contest, very specific for the communist times)… We slept there, some on old piles of newspapers, some in huge baskets like the one in which my friend Dascalescu slept (and I draw him)…

dascalescu din fata

And an expresion study of the same…

expresie

My drawing skills weren’t so bad 37 years ago, were they…

New portraits, finally!


Recently I got to eventually draw again portraits. I did it more for the fun of it than for the money and to draw again  really did me a lot of good…

And I was glad to see I’m not THAT rusty, after my intermission… I still think, shameless, that I do have a knack for it… Here are some of my favorites:

Fanny

Anthony

Emily

andres the columbian

Souhaila la Marocaine

Copyright@dan iordache, 2010

Some recent portrait sketches





2006:some more statistics…and Joana


I finished my last post with a statistic… 471 works (drawings and paintings) realized during the year 2005… Well, there are artists out there whom are producing more than that… I do not know if (considering I’m not too lax with quality) this is a lot, ok, or very little… I just know, looking at numbers that my productivity decrease year after year:

2006: 394 drawings & paintings; 2007: a full 100… 2008: about 70 until now… We are getting older, aren’t we?

I won’t compare myself with Van Gogh, for instance. I know he let about 800-900 paintings and a few thousand drawings… but I’s not for me to do such comparisons… first, I’m just an ordinary artist, who couldn’t (wouldn’t?) get the attention of any medias. I did not (yet) cut my ear or get into an asylum and nowdays you have to have a lot more going for you than some originality (but not enough to found a new art current) and some native qualities as a draughtman or colorist...

You have to live in New York or Paris or London, you have to have – probably – a ferocious desire to succed and to be famous and, most of all, you have to have a lot of luck, to know the right people… I have none of those… so, very probably, I will remain an obscure, almost unknown artist. No big deal! I did and do what I like most, I took my right “to exercise my gift” (W.H. Auden) and my modest existence found its meaning… It’s not a thing a lot of people can bragg about…

I would have wished I could do more for my children… I would have wished they knew more (or be more interested) in what I do… But, that’s life, isn’t it? Children grow up and get their own life. Parents experience and advice is usually wasted and very probable, their children too will grow up and have their own life…and their own, personal, errors…

To start 2006 I will show you (you, my few friends and you, those who browse the Internet, searching for a meaning…) 2 watercolors of my daughter, Joana. She’s almost the only one of my children I draw and paint a few times… I do not know why not the others. In fact, neither of them were willing to pose for me (and I did not insisted) and even these 2 are made after fleeting photographs… Maybe I’ll dig some more in my photo archive, one day… But, mind you, I did some progress in the watercolor technique…