Creating a facsimile of a subject is the first and simplest level of portraiture. I go further. My job is to uncover and portray that person’s true beauty. So I learn the subject’s life story, personality and environs; also, how she moves, her gestures or how he presents himself. I embue the portrait with many layers just as the person is composed of many layers.
All of this demands a variety of approaches. I look at pictures and movies from the person’s entire life to identify consistencies. Sometimes, I simply have a subject sit and talk with me. Occasionally people want me to understand significant stories–life chapters–and paint them. Other times, the subject is masked behind a persona or even a disability. In every case, I start with studies….