THE SOUL OF A PORTRAIT.

Updated: Apr 20





TITLE Leonie

MEDIUM Oil on canvas

SIZE 45x60cm


Until I realise that I feel the person through my own work, in front of me. Then it is right!




Unconditionally present

The quality I strive for in my portraits is that you already know the person a little because you have seen my painting of him or her. Is that person themselves present in the painting? Is such a person ‘unconditionally present’? As they are, and as they are known by their environment?

The greatest compliment I can get is a resounding ‘YES’ to all these questions.

Then I have touched the soul of such a person. That is what I call it.

And what then is this soul?

Let me say first of all that if that soul is there, then as a viewer you feel the closeness of that person.

And how that comes about?

Peace and balance

Through the right balance of all kinds of fragments. In this case, for example, her silhouette. Even if you didn't have your glasses on, you would still recognise her by her silhouette. I.e. her attitude. The typical proportions of the eyes, mouth and nose are also decisive. Another anchor, as I call these fragments, is the moment at which I portray her. I want to portray her in a pose that is characteristic of her and in a relaxed peacefulness.

Hierarchy

The most important question is always: which anchors do I want to give attention to, and which not, or less? I do that with the lighting, for example, or through a detailed elaboration, or a contrast. This is actually the search for the right hierarchy in what I could show. Matters that I think and feel that attention should go to, that draw the eye.

Until I realise that I feel the person through my own work, in front of me. Then it is right!

That is why I always start with an extensive photo session.

Photo session

In such a session, I look for the - somewhat daring word in this context - ‘stripped down’ version of the person. Not literally of course, haha!

I create an atmosphere that invites the other person to relax and be who he or she is. Apart from all the pleasantries, possible tensions, outward appearances and ballast that is carried along.

And I just watch and observe. Endlessly watching: how does she behave? ‘Hey, funny little subtle eyebrow movement’ that kind of observation.

I then get what I call a coherent image of someone. An image that is right: the external phenomena correspond to how someone talks and behaves, the little traits illustrate someone's identity, I then experience someone as an unconditionally present person. ‘Time for the right photos!’ I then say to myself.




ORIGINAL DUTCH VERSION, WRITTEN BY Arjo de Vries

 

Continue reading more about how I work and the quality I strive for, by clicking on one of the other blogs below.


 










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