Every mark an artist makes is a documentation of a presence, a stance an opinion that the artist is trying to deliver and in the case of portraiture the artist finds and highlights the nuances of ones identity.
As a portrait artist I seek to capture the essence of my subject. While photography may capture the physical being, and abstraction may convey some form of deeper emotion, portraiture lands at this crossroads in portraying a subject and their inner being. Specifically focusing on mugshots allows the stripping away of clutter, a turning down of the background noise, to enable the subject’s humanity to captured in their expression, their gaze, and provides the viewer an insight into their lives. My work focuses on the juxtaposition between ones outer and the inner identity faced with the eroding effects of time. As an extrapolation from the traditional use of the mugshot format I seek to bring humanity into this form previously used for simply cataloging humans.
I choose to primarily work in oil on custom built wood panels. Wood allows me to manipulate the surface in a way that no other surface would. My process involves multiple attempts at painting the figure and erasing it via sand paper and re building again only to sand it again. In the final sanding the wood shows the stains – remnants – of the earlier attempts revealing a portrait that is both tarnished by time and resembles the memory of a person carrying the most identifiable traits of this person. I heavily rely on photo references while creating the work, I try to spend time with the subject while photographing the composition and asking questions to the subject about their identity rather than pose them in a pre fixed position. Through this process I gain a magnitude of images from which I choose to paint from.
Portraiture, much like photography is an action in the past tense. The nuance of the self that is captured is eternal and ephemeral at the same time. But unlike photography a great portrait is more than merely capturing likeness. A camera captures what is immediately in front of the lens but a true portrait will capture everything that the camera is unable to.