When a name perfectly, oddly, or eerily suits its beholder it is called an aptonym. It is the cake maker named Baker, the governor named McGovern, or the Olympic champion named Wynn.
The life behind the name fulfills its own nominal prophecy.
Our piece of the week, Louis Bispo’s oil painting, Destiny 2 (12”x9”) is its own aptonym.
While the name “Destiny” comes from the model for the figure, Destiny as a word is befitting of the painting and its importance to Bispo’s stylistic evolution.
The technique of the painting symbolizes an important step towards Bispo’s own artistic destiny. He calls the time when he painted Destiny 2 a moment when “things were really starting to come together for me as a portrait painter.”
Destiny 2 is a notable juncture of stylistic evolution and color change.
He describes his earlier style as working “almost exclusively with earth colors and lead white, as a way of connecting with the painters of centuries past,” he says.
Detail of Destiny 2
While these colors are still connected to his paintings, he has found – instigated, in part, by Destiny’s shirt – a fresh verve of color.
“I used two modern colors on it, cobalt teal and manganese violet, and I made sure to bring a little of those colors into other parts of the painting as well” he says.
Bispo uses color to unify the canvas. The blues – seen in the figure’s dress, hair and, subtly, in the background – echo through the canvas.
Just as destiny, as a concept, unites the past with the future, this painting marks the maturation of style and color.
The model’s striking features inspired Bispo to paint the portrait.
“The first thing I noticed about this model was her exotic eyes, and her cool gaze, and that is the first thing I tried to capture in the portrait.”
The sitting lasted three hours.
He says, “And the hair, of course: who could resist that hair?”
The Destiny’s hair – two buns stacked atop her head – bursts out of the picture plane.
Drawing of Destiny
“I only wish I’d had a larger canvas with me, so I could have painted the hair more completely,” says the artist.
This mode of alla prima, from life, portraiture embodies the style of one of his influences, Robert Henri.
Henri was an American Realist and forerunner of the Ashcan school who also painted many realistic portraits.
“Henri believed in completing a painting quickly, from life, for liveliness of color and brushwork, and I have tried to follow him in this.”