When it comes to creating art, one of my favourite processes is that of creating a portrait from a photograph. Studying someone else’s features, becoming familiar with every millimetre of them, is a shockingly intimate experience. You really feel like you know someone better than ever after such a process, even if you’ve never met them before.
You’re left alone with only your creative soul and the space between your eyes and the photo of the person you’re painting. Suspending any other thoughts, pushing aside the day’s worries, you enter a meditative state.
When I’m not creating art, I teach meditation, and when I’m helping someone find their ground and slow down, this is the place I try to lead them to. This is where everything creative lives. Muses, fairies, forms, whatever you want to call it. This is where you find that creative spark. To open the door, all you need to do is slow down, and be aware of your breathing.
You can get this sort of experience with all sorts of painting in general, but most of my favourite work is done in portrait. Take the portraits below; one of Mick Jagger, the other of Mr. Thomas J. Bata.
Portrait of Mick Jagger
This portrait of Mr. Jagger was done with espresso and ink, which is a style you’ll find common to my work as a Toronto portrait artist.
In this, I tried to portray Mick as loose and fun, which is what we all know he’s like – at least as far as his public persona is concerned.
Compare that one with the portrait of Mr. Thomas J. Bata of the Bata Shoe Company, below.
Do you notice the difference? With Mr. Bata, I focused more on some finer details in his face, showing him as a more respectable, traditionally business-minded person, in contrast with the classic idea of rock ‘n’ roll freedom and debauchery we all know and love from Mick. You might also notice a little pair of shoes in the espresso splash – shoes were Mr. Bata’s life, after all.
To come to these conclusions, though, I had to sit down and feel the very subtle nuances of life and personality in each portrait.
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