Diana Oil on canvas 16’w x 20″ h

When an artist and sitter collaborate to produce a portrait there is a magic that just happens. I have hesitated to post on this subject as I tend to emote on the subject in a way that is hard to express. Maybe it is not totally ineffable. So here it is; as I work with a sitter the sitter is constantly moving sometimes just a little or their expression changes. What this does is cause me to concentrate on the expression and features that are what we remember of the person rather than a momentary snap shot that may have their face in an uncharacteristic pose or catching light so as to over emphasis their features. For instance. I was just discussing a Facebook post with someone who asked me why their nose looked so big. The answer lay in the lighting. the sun was so bright and they had fair skin so their nose was bright enough that the sides of the nose read in the photo as though they were part of the front of the nose.  When someone sits for a portrait they are often surprised that we carry on a conversation and that they are allowed to move, take a drink or even get up and walk away for a moment. I accomplish this by asking them to focus on a small point like the corner of my easel and to try and remember how they are sitting. I also memorize their position and can guide them into the position. It is my custom to shoot a photo of the sitter in the pose we settle on and then as long as they complete the course of sittings I don’t typically refer to the photo. So why do I take it? Ah, experience, you see over the years I have had to abandon paintings of people, buildings animals etc. because of changes. For instance sometimes the sitter has business or personal events that prevent them from completing the sittings. I have had buildings burn down and just think how much more treasured the painting is if the subject is gone or has changed. As to painting children and animals yes I often resort to photographs that I take to do their portraits. Even in these cases I use the photos as reference drawing the portrait free hand and often combining different photos into one impression. Oh a brief note on the featured image my photographer Brian Craig had the idea to pose Joe, a fellow oil painter, in front of the portrait I painted of him. The lighting is different from when I painted him.  The light was raking from the window above where Joe sits to paint.