Is there a central image or idea in the work?
My work is mostly the face portion of the portrait. Sometimes there may be the body, but usually just the bust and face. This can show the subject closer, and in more detail. Cropping the image also separates the person, separating the psychological aspects from the physical.
The face shows much emotion, or none at all. Showing nothing at all can show something too. When one human looks at another human, there is a certain eye contact that takes place and they instantly have an understanding of what the other may be about. The paintings should be able to be understood as what they are without any description necessary besides the title.
What are its different elements and how do they interact within the work?
First and foremost, I try to portray the face and figure realistically. I may look at photos, or imagine what I see, but the image will be real.
I use color both tonally, light and dark, but also utilizing the different hues. To me, each color has uses and feelings. Also, colors physically next to colors can show different ideas. Hot colors and cold colors or monochromatic colors schemes all tend to have different feelings.
I use costume and clothing to my advantage, especially since uniform and clothing style can communicate so much on it’s own. Everyone understands specific items of clothing as to how they relate to the persons job or personality, even their position in life. I really enjoy trying to portray that in my paintings. A nude person has much less to communicate in that aspect.
A portraits facial qualities emote certain ideas as well. The eyes are the portals to the soul. The mouth can also show emotion. Age can be conveyed via skull structure and size. Wrinkles and skin feel are signs of how old one is. If a woman has make-up on, she looks different from a plain person. I can paint a person perfectly combed and made up or sloppily represented. All tend to show an inward aspect to the person.
What kind of materials are you using? Why?
I use oil paint first and foremost because of the techniques available. Oil can be thinned and used in many layers, but also thick in one layer. Granted acrylic paint may also have these qualities, but oil will also not dry as fast. Oil paint has mixing and glazing qualities I like. I like the history behind oil paint. I want to be a part of that history.
I paint on canvas too, for that matter, because that is what most previous painters have done. The canvas is light and has a certain give to it. The canvas also has a texture which I like. It is different from painting on the slick surface of wood. I have tried that, and it definitely gives a different outcome. The flat surface of wood or board lends itself to more perfect line and detail. That can be nice, but so can the rough canvas. Both have their place and technique.
(Photo by: Becca Sabot Photography)