I started my series of portraits in the summer of 2014. Each person I paint embodies some quality that I am inspired by and hope to capture, even if I cannot name it. When I look deeply in someone’s eyes as they look back into mine I recognize that the vastness from which they look at me is no different from the vastness I sense in myself. It is that sense of vastness, as ineffable as it often is, which I most want to capture. So while each portrait reflects the different qualities of each subject’s individuality, the paintings are also similar in that they all intend to capture this deeper experience of Being.
I want to make my portraits as real as possible. Not just realistic, as in a very close representation of reality, but real in the sense that the paintings reveal an independent reflection of truth. I want to be awakened by the reality of the portraits, and hope that others are similarly awakened.
When I work on a painting, it sometimes feels like I am tuning into something, like a radio signal. First, it is difficult to decipher what exactly the portrait will reveal. But as I work on it, the signal gets clearer. It is only in the last stages of the painting that the signal begins to feel fine-tuned.
I choose to paint the portraits as large, up-close faces, gazing directly at the viewer so as to encourage the most intimate, immersive experience. The best way to see them and, more importantly, to genuinely perceive them is to stand directly in front of them. (For this reason I dislike photographs of my work, as the paintings are then recreated into small photographic images, and don’t have the power or the presence of the originals.) With each painting my style has developed, and, I believe, deepened. Each painting seems more “real” to me than the one previous.
I am grateful to all of my models, as I know it takes courage to allow oneself to be truly be seen with the sort of intimacy and vulnerability that these portraits offer.