Thursday, August 1, 2019

Portrait of Joey

"Portrait of Joey" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 12" x 16" 2019

Portraits and life

I started working on portraits again.  I had taken a couple of months hiatus, after returning from Israel, as I had other projects that were really demanding, one being wrapping up my Master's degree, last week.

I love doing portraits, as it is always a challenge, but more, I feel like I get to know a person's spirit and soul while I am doing them.  This is especially true if a person has passed on -- and there is no physicality in this earthly plane anymore, to reference.  When a living portrait is created, I can reference the sitter, see their body language, the energy they give off, what their eyes tell me.  When I do a posthumous painting, I must pour over photos, listen to stories from their loved ones, and from those different elements, try to glean their essence -- what they were like while they were alive -- how can I capture their "likeness" in the portrait.

Defining a Portrait

A portrait is so much more than trying to copy a photograph.  You can copy a photograph down to it's last grainy pore, and not "capture" the person's true likeness.  Likeness comes when you can capture the persons' essence and spirit that emanates from their being-- in the present, or in the past, while they were alive.  When a person who loved them says to me -- "wow -- I can feel the happiness of their smile" -- or "you really captured their expression" -- then I know the artwork was a success-- it will "live" in the recipient's life, much more than just on their wall.

I have a Mom who tells me the portrait of her sons who both passed on gives her immense comfort, more so than any photo.  She "feels" them with her when she sits near their portrait in her living room.  This brings me joy to know it brings her comfort.  I feel my task was completed as an Artist when I hear her relay this to me.

And so, more will be on the way in the next few months now that my life is my own again! :-)

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