Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tineke's portrait of Sophia

From time to time (but not often), I've met up with gifted artists capable of creating portraits. On such occasions, I've always wondered naively: How do they do it? This skill has intrigued me greatly in the case of my Choranche neighbor Tineke Bot, with whom I've had countless fascinating conversations about the ways in which she perceives the world around her. I've had opportunities of noticing, often in trivial contexts, that Tineke's awareness of the physical environment of forms and colors in which she exists is surely many times more subtle and sensitive than my own vision of these same things. At times, she reminds me of the proverbial Eskimo with his dozens of words for all the many kinds of snow. The other day, on the telephone, I was deploring the fact that the current abundance of wetness and scarcity of sunshine at Choranche have given rise to a uniformly green environment in which there are not yet any colorful flowers (apart from yellow buttercups in the fields). In this context, Tineke exclaimed her enchantment upon the discovery of such a vast array of subtly different kinds of greenness, forming a magical mosaic all around her.

As an accomplished artist (sculpture, painting, drawing, etc), Tineke demonstrates constantly that, not only does she see the world with fine sensitivity, but she can transmit her special visions through the works she creates… even in the case of a hastily-sketched portrait of my dog Sophia.

This morning, I took this photo of Sophia's head in about the same position as for Tineke's portrait:

Tineke obliged Sophia to participate in a sitting, as it were, as she needed to have the dog directly in front of her, staring up at her while she was executing her drawing. I was amused to find that Tineke's husband Serge has apparently become an essential collaborator in this kind of animal portrait project. He crouched alongside Tineke and distributed little bits of bread to Sophia throughout the sitting, in order to keep the dog more-or-less fixed in the necessary spot. If I understand correctly, Serge became patient and proficient in this technique with sheep, back at the time that Tineke was creating little masterpieces such as this one:

In the animal domain, Tineke has also done fine sketches of horses.

The brown horse, momentarily endowed with Tineke's colorful vision of the landscape, seems to be saying to itself, in amazement: "Wow, the Vercors is truly extraordinary today!"

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