Sometimes I just cannot decide who it is I want to draw. I finally decided late last night to give a try to sketching Barbra Streisand. Everything about Streisand is unique and original from her career in acting and films to her vocals to her name and appearance, and I wanted to try and capture that originality in a sketch of her.
I have always liked Streisand as an artist because she seems to be able to move from one extreme to another, from dramatic to comedic roles with amazing ease and skill.
I absolutely LOVED the romantic drama, The Prince of Tides, a film based on the book by Pat Conroy, in which Streisand not only played the role of the psychiatrist Susan Lowenstein and co-starred with Nick Nolte as Tom Wingo, but she also directed. Created on a $30 million budget and bringing in a final gross figure of $110 million, the film is a testament to Streisand’s directing success. I remember being so disappointed when, despite being nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, the film was not nominated for Best Director. However, she was still nominated for the Directors Guild of America Award as well as the Golden Globe Award for Best Director in 1991.
Now, I also loved Streisand in the comedic role of Roz Focker in Meet the Fockers and Little Fockers, where Barbra co-starred alongside Dustin Hoffman (another absolutely amazing actor) who played her husband Bernie Focker. As Roz, Streisand is hysterical, while coming across as genuine. Meet the Fockers started out with an $80 million budget and grossed $516, 642,939, and the sequel had a budget that was $50 million less than the first, but still grossed $310,650,585. If you put Barbra’s roles in the dramatic and comedic films side by side, it is a demonstration of how she can easily move from a serious, dramatic role to a comedic role, and she does so without getting caught up in the typecasting trap.
Streisand is no different when it comes to her music and vocals. Barbra is a half-soprano or a mezzo-soprano and her voice easily spans a full three octaves and then some, and has sometimes been called semi-operatic. One of the best things I appreciate about Streisand is she is not afraid to be herself, to be distinct, and different.
At the age of 18, she changed the spelling of her first name from Barbara to Barbra because she did not care for her name, but she did not want to change it too much. The following quote is attributed to her: “I don’t care what you say about me. Just be sure to spell my name wrong.” And… in another quote, which I love, Barbra stresses the importance of self- discovery, and self-trust…“I learned you have to trust yourself, be what you are, and do what you ought to do the way you should do it. You have got to discover you, what you do, and trust it.”
And therein lies the struggle of every artist…finding him or herself, trusting the process and the result. Often, the inner critic stands in the way of the artist’s ability to trust in the self or the artistic process. Streisand stands as an icon representing the need to embrace one’s own uniqueness, to be one’s authentic self, and to willing to embrace the artistic process as it unfolds as well as the results thereof.