Tennis Players - Essence of the Man: Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr.
by Diana K. Stemen
Tennis Stars - Essence of the Man: Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr.
How do I start? This is a painting I did approximately 17 yrs. ago. I share it because it had a devastating effect on me at that time.
I was in a new City in a new Job. I discovered there was a competition to be held regarding art work. I had always been and still do have trouble sharing my art work. (Criticism is critical to doing better work but, honestly, it is sometimes hard for me to take.)
I wanted to win the competition so badly that I threw myself into doing so. I read a book about Arthur Ashe to become knowledgeable about the man as I knew I wouldn't be able to talk with him personally.
I studied some new painting techniques and applied them.
The composition for this piece came about (not knowing about the Golden Triangle) by pulling together photographs of Mr. Ashe from where ever I could get them.
I put the images on transparencies, different sizes of them, overlapping the sheets till I had what looked good to me. Transferring my drawing on to my stretched canvas,using the grid method. When the drawing was completed I went to apply my first colors and realized I had transposed the drawing.
Don't know how I didn't notice. My mind would not allow me to apply the colors to the canvas with the image transposed.
Sensitive as I am.....cried and cried and cried. I did not have but a couple of weeks to complete the painting before the competition and working a full time job along with little experience with painting portraits, let a lone scared to death about participating, I was overwhelmed.
At this point I was no longer concerned about winning but capturing the essence of Arthur Ashe.
The way Mr. Ashe was treated affected me and had me in tears during the painting of this portrait.
The painting won 1st place!
I was ecstatic to say the least.
However it was rejected by the community I lived in because I am white. (I felt a lot of what my subject had certainly experienced in his life.) You know having not written about this experience made me have a Ah ha moment right now.
It did paralyze me from painting for quite some time. There have been many other pieces but few portraits since then.
I still have my painting as no one has offered to purchase it even with the exposure it received in the community after the competition.
No problem, for there is always a very good reason for everything and all works out for the best in the end.
NOTE: I was unable to give his mother notice in the painting so when ever I display this piece, a live rose is placed at the top of the painting in remembrance of her. I do leave it there to die....essence of the rose goes on as does Mr. Ashes' essence.
I hope my experience helps someone to press on.