Portraits of "Royals" and "Politicians" never cease to fascinate me because they present a distinctive challenge.  Rendered subjects must:

1) be recognizable, 
 2) appear powerful, 
3) look attractive.

Historically, many paintings have met the first two criteria but failed miserably with the third. I can't help but wonder whether some unfortunate artists ended up in the darkest of damp, rat infested dungeons after presenting their "chef d'oeuvre" to the sitter.

Trouble is, artists are frequently mesmerized by a mountain of wrinkles, a prominent nose, bushy eyebrows or Einstein-like hair. Texture, colour or the inherent design of an element can become all consuming, an area of delightful focus. The sitter may hope for a little "arts plastiques" surgery to enhance their greatness and beauty for generations to come, but the artist may have another repressed agenda.

Some individuals are blessed with near perfection when it comes to their looks (and are often boring to paint). Ideals vary though, and what is considered beautiful to some can be perceived as particularly unattractive to others. An irregular or unusual feature ripens into something charming and bewitching the more you know a person. Quirkiness and personality often give rise to pulchritude.

Years ago, I saw a series of intriguing portraits of the Habsburg family. In an effort to consolidate power, the Habsburgs got a little carried away with inbreeding, The chins and jaws of each generation became more and more prominent. The lower lip of some descendants grew increasingly pouty and droopy. The Habsburgs paid the price for their pursuit of blue blood with mental, emotional and physical problems. Poor Carlos II of Spain suffered the most.

Paintings by Juan Carreño de Miranda of Carlos II manage to glamorize a pathetic figure whose lot was heartbreaking. I recently bought a secondhand book about the Habsburgs and found myself deeply affected by disturbing descriptions of some family members. I'm sure this information will simmer on the back burner of my brain and eventually boil over as "une piéce de résistance".

For the time being, all these generational portraits of important people cursed with wonky features remind me of my doodles. I tend to naturally exaggerate features when drawing on automatic.

This doodle was done on a yellow post-it note and evolved from a phone conversation. The little red character looks somewhat noble.  

I scanned it into my Gimp program and manipulated the image using various filters. 

In the examples below, I placed two manipulated images on one background. Since both originated from the same doodle,  it was interesting to compare the different interpretations. 

I added a simulated canvas surface texture and made more connections. The hair (as usual) was a joy to draw and I further exaggerated some of the features. The nose of the  fictitious important person on the right grew as his chin receded. I widened the head of the more imposing character on the left to achieve a dignified bust.

I eventually separated them again in order to create two cameos.  


King Doodle I and his son Prince Doodle II.

Ersatz inbreeding,  Perhaps I have too much time on my hands.