"Practice makes better" is what we tell the five-year-old. When the child is older, I will explain (and repeat) the 10,000-hours-towards-mastery concept. I don't believe in Perfection. Mastery allows for experimentation to continue and recognizes two important things: the time one must invest in order to improve and that failure is a necessary part of achieving success.
Portrait painting has been the most difficult thing I've attempted. It's positively baffling to me. I can't work from one photo. Working from life is ideal, but my current subject (my grandmother) is no longer living. A wall of photos of a person from different angles, different decades (like I'm some sort of stalker) is better for me simply because a single photo rarely captures a personality.* I believe a painting of someone can express who a person truly is by combining impressions from many, many moments.
*Of course there are master photographers who CAN capture the essence of a person, which simply proves my point about mastery.
I have made three attempts to paint my grandmother's portrait. Each attempt taught me something new and no doubt revealed more about me than my subject. It kept getting better though. Months ago, after getting her features closer to a likeness, I walked away from it, but yesterday my sister stopped in her tracks when she saw it and raised her wand in approval. That was really all I needed for fuel to finish the rest of it.
|With Grandmother Frances (wearing a hat I made for her.)|
|My Grandmother Mary (at left) and Grandmother Frances (at right) wearing a tiara, of course.|
|A person that defied labels|