A new perspective: Artist draws caricatures, paints faces, creates smiles
July 27, 2013
— To commission a work by caricaturist and face-painter Amanda Field, contact her at 602-403-2695 or Amanda.field14@ic… or visit her on Yampa Avenue during Do It Downtown Thursdays from 4 to 7 p.m. this summer.
A person may know how they look on the outside, but the issue of how others perceive them can be a mystery. If you happen to be walking along Yampa Avenue on Thursday afternoons during the summer, a woman with a sketchbook can give you an honest and entertaining appraisal of your appearance in about 20 minutes with just a few splashes of ink.
Just be sure to sit still.
Local artist Amanda Field specializes in the world of portraiture — specifically caricatures — setting up shop on the sidewalk this summer during the Do It Downtown Thursdays weekly event. Set up with paper, pens, markers and a few other supplies, she can create a likeness of her subjects in a matter of minutes.
Field said she "walks a middle ground" between detail-oriented and gesture-oriented art, a difficult distinction when trying to capture a person's look and personality at once.
"I probably creep people out because I spend a minute staring at them, picking out key features," she joked.
While caricaturists tend to mock those sitting for them, Field tries to steer clear of grotesque, cartoonish dimensions, much to the relief of folks with Karl Malden's nose, Dolly Parton's chest or Clark Gable's ears.
"It's kind of a sensitive area, and you have to be very careful about how you approach it because you can really offend people," she said. "I like to keep it somewhat realistic. I'll make them goofy if I feel comfortable with them or I get a chance to interview them."
The 25-year-old artist learned early on in her career the repercussions of an unhappy subject.
"I did a caricature of my grandma and I don't think I got a Christmas present that year," she said.
Field said she showed an interest in art at a very young age.
"My mom tells everybody that ever meets her how I used to paint on myself with food," she laughed.
She grew up in Arizona and received a Bachelors of Fine Arts with an emphasis in painting from Arizona State University, but embarking on a profession as a full-time artist was easier said than done.
"In high school, they train you what to do and in college they teach you the aesthetic practices of painting and drawing, but they never really train you how to market yourself," she said. "You always grow up thinking the whole 'starving artist' thing is cool and edgy and then you get out of college and find out starving is actually no fun at all."
Her portfolio includes a number of tattoo designs — which is a medium she would love to try — as well as meticulous renderings of Pres. John F. Kennedy and baseball player Reggie Jackson as part of a project for which Field was commissioned celebrating the life of a journalist who had countless interviews with various American personalities, the 35th president and Mr. October among them.
Field's artistic sensibilities came in handy for a different field of work. She's currently a mortgage specialist for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.
"They're such a good employer because they embrace my background," she said. "They liked that I had a creative edge. When you're faced with adversity on a loan or a customer who has a certain problem, you have to approach it creatively, and the background I have you look at things from a different point of view."
Art frequently was on her mind when in a cubicle-based work environment where she often was on the phone with argumentative customers. Her doodles reflected what kind of manners the person speaking to her possessed.
"Sometimes I'd be able to get a picture of them from their driver's license and, 'Oh, I wasn't that far off,'" she said. "Any kind of art like that is a good way to express yourself because you're either going to snap at somebody or you can have a funny drawing that's just for you and your friends."
Field made it a point to get involved in the community quickly after moving to Northwest Colorado from Phoenix last September. When she started with Do It Downtown, she originally offered face-painting for children, but she jumped at the chance to draw caricatures, as well.
"Kids love the face-painting, and parents usually want the caricatures of their kids, especially if there's two of them," she said. "It's got a lasting effect and the kids just like getting painted."
With many subjects fidgety and impatient, her technique is based on incorporating a quick pace and still staying true to the purpose of a caricature.
"People get so into the details that they forget art is about capturing the moment and the feel of the person," she said. "It forces you to work fast and rely on gesture drawing rather than just poring over a portrait for hours. It keeps you fresh, it's a fun art form, you don't have to be perfect, anyone can do caricatures."
Her philosophy also maintains that anyone should be able to buy caricatures, too. Unlike artists who set up in tourist spots or accept work online charging double- or even triple-digit prices for their sketches, Field's drawings cost only $5 per person.
"For me, it's more important to get my name out there and let a lot of people get them," she said. "I'd rather have a lot of people coming downtown for that than charging them an arm and a leg for a portrait. Everyone's really conscientious of how they spend their money, and I have more fun drawing them than anything, and all the money I get just goes toward art supplies to keep doing more of them. It's not about showing in galleries for me; it's always been about doing stuff that people can take away with them."
Most important is seeing the look on a subject's face when the work is revealed, whether it be the delight of getting exactly what they expected or the amused shock that their new paper doppelganger isn't quite the same person they checked out in the mirror that morning. If someone isn't pleased with it, at least it's another entry in the portfolio.
"Some people may not know what they're looking for, and they may they want something completely different," Field said. "Everyone wonders how people see them."
Andy Bockelman can be reached at 970-875-1793 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Andy Bockelman can be reached at 970-875-1793 or email@example.com.Andy Bockelman can be reached at 970-875-1793 or firstname.lastname@example.org.