Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Painting Commissioned Portraits

Painting commissioned portraits is always challenging. Making an interesting painting as well as representing an individual to his or her satisfaction can sometimes be tricky. My latest incarnation as a portrait painter seems to be painting beloved, but deceased pets. My dear friend and dealer, Peg Goldberg, of Longstreth Goldberg Art, Naples, FL, called me a month or two ago close to tears. Her neighbor's dog "Maxwell Smart" had passed away that morning and they were all devastated. It seems Maxwell, a huge, happy, old yellow lab was the center of their lives. Peg asked me if I would paint Maxwell with his "parents", as a surprise. This is when a portrait painter has to make a decision- do I make an attempt at it or not? My policy is to always say yes. And truthfully I have yet to paint a portrait from which I didn't learn something new or which didn't push me out of my comfort zone in one way or another. I always feel like I gain from the experience. So I said "yes, I would love to paint Maxwell and Family!" Then Peg started sending me the only resource material she had, which included a very blurry low resolution image of Maxwell, and a couple bad shots of his people. The only story I had to go on was that Maxwell liked bananas. So that led to a picnic- Dejeuner sur L'herbe avec Lab. Since they live in Naples I looked at a Winslow Homer watercolor I love of palm trees, and invented a picnic lunch, including a banana. Peg gave me some input on the general appearance of her friends-face shape, type of clothing, etc. which was helpful. She loves the end result and is giving the painting to her friends for Christmas. What did I learn from this one? I definitely figured out palm trees, and I got better at making something from almost nothing. As long as my client is happy, then I am happy to have painted it.

The painting of Maxwell Smart is oil on panel 20" x 24"

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