This is a portrait of my Aunt Maggie. She passed away at way too young an age. It was a tough time for her immediate family… they are a tight knit group that spends a lot of time together. Her husband is my mom’s younger brother, and one of my favourite relatives.
Eventually, as it goes when there are artists in the family, my uncle asked me to paint her portrait. I was hesitant to say yes, since I don’t consider myself to be a portrait artist at all. I did’t want to disappoint him, and I had no idea if I’d be able to capture a likeness. But I finally agreed to try, and set about attempting to convince myself that if I just kept going, eventually I would get there.
I think I did this painting about 20 times. The photo I started with was taken at a family wedding, and she was laughing. It was a great photo that really captured who she was. But every time I got close to completing it, I’d realize she looked like a little old asian lady. Every. Single. Time.
I procrastinated. I would do anything else but work on this piece. Then every couple months I would see it staring at me in my studio and I’d devote a weekend to trying to get it finished. Eventually I decided that the photo was the problem, and went through the files until I found another one that I thought might work. My fist attempt at that one was pretty awful too. As was my second. I was beginning to think I was never going to get this finished. Not to my satisfaction anyway.
I finally got a book from the library on capturing a likeness. Then I came across a Craftsy online portrait class by Gary Faigin. I only had to watch the first lesson to figure out what I was doing wrong. I went back into my studio, determined to get this thing done.
And I did. And he was happy. And so was I.