8" by 8"
Oils on Gessoed Panel
A Loving Reminder
I have found that painting a portrait of a person I love is invaluable. Not only because I end up with a keepsake and record of at least one way I see that person, maybe even a portfolio piece, but because it always reminds me not to get too attached to photo reference. When I know and love a person, I have seen them in almost every possible lighting and expression, I have that visual knowledge to draw upon. Using that knowledge of a face or person I know well shows me that no matter how good the photo reference, it can't give me that full understanding to work with. Painting a loved one is a reminder not to be complacent when creating a likeness.
So, how does this apply to portraits of people I don't know, or at least not as well? You might assume that knowing the difference in the painting experience might be disheartening to me when I approach a more distant subject, but in fact it helps me remember that I am not copying a photograph, but capturing something indescribable in other ways through my art. One way I can do that is just by having more than one photograph to work from, so I can see different aspects of that person. If I have met the person in real life I can think of my impression of them and how the light changed their face. And, lastly, I can pick up on some detail of expression that the photograph shows me, but play it up or find my interpretation of a bit of who they are through that detail and unravel it in my work.
In case you are wondering, the photo above is a likeness of my beautiful Mom. The paint is still wet, as this painting is freshly completed today. I'll get a nice, clear straight on photo of this painting after it dries. For now, I hope you enjoy this glimpse into my process.
P.S. If you are interested in commissioning a portrait, pepper me with questions at email@example.com.