30 May Portraits 1
Friday was the day. A beautiful morning, like most mornings in Jacksonville, Florida. With coffee in hand I set out for Southlight Gallery to meet Tony Wood and sit for my first portrait ever. I was nervous, which could account for the no less than 15 detours I ended up taking (most definitely NOT on purpose) finally arriving downtown, Tony waiting patiently on the sidewalk. He was gracious about my tardiness and soon we were settling in to the studio and getting to work.
A portrait is something that a lot of people never consider for themselves. Family photographs are how most families document the growth of their children, or special occasions, and there is nothing wrong with this, but having a portrait created is something that not many people may think about. Since we are here to take a deeper look at our interaction with the art world, lets consider it for a minute. We are, after all, beginning to think outside the box when it comes to living with and enjoying art.
A portrait is an artistic representation of a person in which the expression is predominate with the intent being to not only capture the likeness but often to capture the personality and mood of the subject as well. Portrait art dates back to early civilizations in which they portrayed rulers, priests, warriors and even distinguished artisans. The Mona Lisa is, arguably, one of the most famous portraits, painted by Leonardo da Vinci and is of an unidentified woman. The oldest known portrait to date was found in 2006 and is thought to be 27,000 years old.
Historically portraits have gone thru several changes in style, from ultra-realistically drawn and painted to completely abstract. In the past the when the upper class had their portraits painted they would instruct the artist to omit unflattering features, so there are questions about the accuracy of some historic portraits. Personally, I enjoy the freedom of modern day art. We seem to have evolved to the point that the idea of beauty and what is beautiful has become more natural and as the world becomes a smaller place thanks to technology, we seem to embrace different cultures as beautiful and the need to omit certain features as unflattering is falling by the wayside. (At least it is in my mind, so if you have proof otherwise I respectfully ask you not to burst my bubble!)
My experience with Tony was wonderful. I sat in a big overstuffed chair, with my coffee and music playing. All I had to do was sit and be still. (For those of you who know me….maybe not so easy! ha!) Tony did all the hard stuff. The greatest part was watching him work. Tony is a very nice, down-to-earth guy who, when he picks up a pencil, becomes extraordinary. Getting to sit for 2 hours and watch him work his magic with nothing more than a piece of paper and stick of charcoal was amazing. There is no greater joy than that of watching someone do something they love, is there?
The result was, well, I will let you decide. Needless to say the charcoal sketches were just “practice” according to Tony. Just prep work for the work he will do back at his studio, later, alone. There he will take his sketches and turn them into something wonderful with oil. I can’t wait.
My friends, consider treating yourself to this experience. At least once. You are all beautiful. Man, Woman, Old & Young alike. Your features are uniquely yours. Do this for yourself. There are portrait artists everywhere who, I am sure, are willing to work with any budget. Yes, this may be an extravagance and probably will cost more than a photograph, but is something unique and special that you will own and treasure forever. Maybe it is a gift to a parent or spouse or just something from You to You. Either way, it is exciting to see what someone else sees in you. It is not vain. Put away the old thinking. Today is a new day. Portraits are fun and interesting. Take a chance….think outside the box!