100 DAYS 100 PAINTINGS 100 YEARS
In live sittings during the Covid-19 lockdown, Prudence Whittlesey completed a series of 100 paintings, over 100 days, of her father in his 100th year. This project made it explicitly clear that subtle states of being were communicated in painting partly because there were no words or narration to constrain it during the silent sitting/painting sessions.
The sitter's concentration in sustaining a focused gaze activates Whittlesey's abstraction in painting. This painting is an example of a sustained mutual gaze between father and daughter during the sitting.
However, when her elderly father succumbed to the sleep-inducing stillness and silence of the sitting, his sleep state compelled a more observational perspective in the painter.
Every portrait from these sittings reveals itself as a marker of time-travel. Her father saw his personal emotional history emerge in the paintings in an entirely non-verbal and non-goal centered way. Afterwards, they discovered correspondences between the current paintings and family photographs that span his 100 years.
They never intended to make paintings about his WWII military service, but it was not surprising that the war surfaced in the paintings. Those experiences persisted in him as both memories and “feeling states.”
Her father sometimes summarized the paintings as characters that he had encountered in his life rather than characterizations of himself, amalgams of external observations of people blended with his personal psychology.