What a treat it was to paint sisters! I completed this commission for two sisters, Desi and Willa – at the request of their parents. They both recently achieved some major milestones in their lives by completing their master’s degrees, so Tom and Reba (their parents) decided a great way to celebrate was having their portraits painted. I’m so grateful that I was able to be a part of this!
The first step in the whole process is a discussion of what kind of portrait you would like. If you look at my paintings, some of them are a bit looser and some are more refined. Are you looking for a casual or more formal look? Will it be a head and shoulders; or part, or all of the body? Loose abstract background or more details? Inside or outside? Do you want your dog in the painting? You can see there are lots of possibilities. Once the initial decision about direction has been made, the actual process begins.
My process (for now) has been to ask for 3-4 hours initially with the subject I’ll be painting. I take tons of photos, so that we can find some that seem to suit the person I’m painting. Then I spend some time doing a head study to record that person’s coloring in paint. Photographs are not the same as real life. Ideally, it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to paint the entire portrait from life, but there are few folks who are willing to take the time for that.
At that point, sometimes I will do a small, quick study for the client of the painting concept. Otherwise, I will begin the actual painting, using a combination of photographs and my study from life. I have recorded color notes in paint that will help me “translate” the photographs. Once I feel that the painting is complete, I will arrange for the client to view that painting, either in person or by photographs. This is an opportunity for the client to make adjustments. There are details that are important to the client that I may not be aware of — so this is an opportunity to make sure I have addressed those.
Portraits become heirlooms that are passed down in families — reminders of the people in our lives who are the most special to us. I am grateful for the opportunity to play a part in this process. There is something special and magical about painting someone. Hopefully a bit of their “soul” comes through in the process.