My aim in painting a portrait is to first still myself enough to begin to actually see the subject of the portrait, to see that individual unlike any other. To prepare I ask myself many questions: Can I set aside thoughts and judgments to really perceive what is before me? Will I sense and feel not just the shapes, colours and textures but the being that is emanating forth as a person with thoughts, feelings and accomplishments? Can I perceive how light reveals their form as it falls across it? Do I have the technique sufficient to record what it is that I see in front of me?
I believe that the look and the feel of the subject are equally important. What this means is that accuracy of physical likeness is essential, and so is capturing the character; the resonance of that unique individual that says to anyone who knows them that it feels like that person. People donít stop at their physical boundaries. They emanate into the space around them. I sense that while painting the background, and this can help set the portrait properly in space, giving it a sense of atmosphere.
For these reasons I prefer to paint from life, to have the subject present. When this is not possible, as in the case of children too young to sit, I do a preliminary sketch and a colour study to capture the uniqueness of the spirit and the variation of value, chroma and hue in the skin, hair and clothes. I also use photographs as an aid for details of jewelry and clothing.
I am always striving for authenticity in the portrait.