February 16, 2010

Painting Portraits

Aristotle stated, "The aim of Art is to present not the outward appearance of things, but their inner significance; for this, not the external manner and detail, constitutes true reality."

Portrait painting is a genre where the intent is to depict the visual appearance of the subject. Historically, portrait paintings have primarily memorialized the rich and powerful. Over time, however, it became more common for middle-class patrons to commission portraits of their families and colleagues.A well-executed portrait is expected to show the inner essence of the subject (from the artist's point of view) or a flattering representation, not just a literal likeness. 
  When I paint a portrait, however, it is a representation of the DREAM, hope or desire in an individual. It is a supreme honor to be entrusted with translating such a jewel as some one's deepest desire , onto canvas. At times I feel I'm peering into a sacred place. Frequently I stop and respectfully ponder and pray for that person and that passion they have asked me to give expression to in paint.  If I could invite you into my thoughts, you'd hear whispers of awe and gratitude at the opportunity of painting portraits of people's dreams.  A dream is such a precious thing. It is the very seed of possibility. It is the language of faith. 
 The Durham Dreams Project, in which a dozen individuals dreams of rebuilding Durham, will have it's official launch this Friday evening at Goldenbelt Studios with a reception. The dream portrait of the presenting sponsor, Wendy White, CEO of Future Wave will be a highlighted exhibition. Along with this featured piece, there will also be the highlighted story of "The Orphan's Dream Portrait", the painted interpretation of the dream of Jody Tucker. Jodi's dream, mobilizing assistance and adoption for orphans worldwide, was an privilege to paint, although a difficult one. Knowing the depth of need and the dire circumstances of thousands of children brought me to tears several times during the creation of her portrait. Jodi's portrait, created in June, is now being lived our as she and a team of disaster relief experts are presently in Haiti working to assist the countless orphans.
 Since embarking on this "dream journey", I have been struck by the power and influence this topic carries. One of my supreme delights is getting to talk to visitors who come through my studio  about their own dreams. The conversations have been compelling and inspiring. I've also learned a valuable lesson quite by surprise: "If you want to get to know someone, ask them about their dream." Interesting conversation ensues instantly. 

  So, what's YOUR dream? Let's talk.... 


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