Art is a language of emotion arising from personal experience. Throughout my 30-year career as a professional portraitist I have been driven by the desire to create in my work the beauty I envision in my dreams.
There are two artists in particular who have had a major influence in my work. British photographer Julia Margaret Cameron’s portraits seize with surprising sureness the personality and character of her sitters. Cameron’s photographs are more than records of appearance. Startling in their originality and intensity, her images reveal the very mind and soul of the individuals who sat before her camera.
In a sense, Ms. Cameron was a Pre-Raphaelite. Her compositions aimed for the sense of the poetic and she was devoted to meticulous detail. Pre-Raphaelite artists, considered pioneers in the “cult of the beautiful,” created images of arresting women with sensuous features and mysterious, ethereal bearings. Executed in rich, vibrant colors, Pre-Raphaelite paintings are insistent in the realism of their details. The complex, highly personal symbolism found throughout the genre defies casual interpretation and is inextricably linked to the passions and personal fortunes of the creators and their models.
American painter John Singer Sargent, whose paintings present a reality in itself, also influences my work. His elegant and incisive characterization is based on an in-depth analysis of various elements, such as light, color, and atmosphere, as well as an emphatic desire to highlight unique details, among them costume and accessories. Sargent’s skill lies in his ability to depict qualities in his sitters that draw the viewer into his portraits. He saw his role as that of an image-maker, one who specialized in capturing the unique personality of his male subjects, and emphasizing the innate elegance and splendor of his female subjects.
In my portraits, the subject is welcomed in to the world I have created in order to accentuate their unique qualities. The first step in my creative process is a conversation with my sitters. I get to know them and seek to uncover what drives them, to reveal their aspirations and dreams. The second step is an immersive study of the portrait elements, such as tableau, mood, wardrobe, decorative props, and floral arrangements, so that they work in perfect harmony as a whole. Ultimately, the black-and-white photograph is printed on fiber paper matte c-print with a sepia tone and then hand painted in oil.
My artwork combines painting and photography to create a romantic vision that captures the grace and elegance of a bygone era while celebrating the modern virtues of strength, independence, and self confidence found in my subjects.