(Please note: the following is a description of how I approach the artistic process and is how I work when creating pictures for my portfolio. It is the preferred manner of working when commissioned. However, I realize that many prospective clients have their own visions or are requesting work that involves subjects that may not be available for a photo shoot or are of a person at any earlier time - I am opened to all forms of collaboration.)
My goal as a portrait artist is to explore and reveal the internal human experience, the psychological and emotional self. I create the conditions by which the subject can be present in the moment, a state of awareness of their thoughts and emotions and the physical sensations that accompany them. I like to spend some time getting to know the person I am going to draw. By making a personal connection, the subject can feel safe and free to reveal a part of themselves. I then produce an atmosphere that is conducive to the process, this can involve music, poetry, prose, film - pretty much any form of evocation that will bring the subject to an emotional place. I encourage the person to then listen to themselves while I quietly recede into the background, camera at the ready. I wait patiently and as the model begins to relax and then reflect, I capture the moments that follow.
I am motivated to make these kinds of pictures by a fascination with the infinite possibilities that result from the combination of so many variables. The emotional experiences and memories of the individual as well as their present internal state, the model's physical features, the physical conditions of the space - light and tone, and the objects that are present in the surroundings, all combine to produce a unique moment worthy of recognition.
These moments tend to project human experiences that are universal and relatable. I believe that there is a feeling of safety that comes with acknowledging shared experience. The concept of empathy is itself reassuring. The actual experience of empathy can have a grounding effect that reinforces our sense of humanness. I find this comforting in a world that all too often can leave us feeling alienated from our own humanity and that of our fellow beings. I create art that will remedy this condition by reminding the viewer that they are not alone, that these are indeed shared feelings.
With the photographic image in hand the work of creating a drawing begins.
The process is organic and often reveals itself as the work progresses. The choice of medium comes first and informs certain aspects of the style. As the work proceeds, I remind myself that I am describing a poignant moment in the life of a person. The choice of tone and areas to emphasize or withdraw are made with the intention of maximizing the emotional affect and developing the internal story behind the moment. I pay close attention to all physical manifestations of emotion found in the subjects expression and relay them by carefully chronicling the subtle nuanced positions of their features. The smallest of adjustments to the shape or tone of a feature can have an out sized effect on the expression as a whole. It is in the later stages of the drawing that these fine tunings will take place. I find it to be one of the most captivating parts of the process.
The finished product is a highly detailed image (both in the realism of the rendering and the honesty of the story telling), that will capture the imagination of the viewer, conjure feelings of empathy and personal reflection, and perhaps inspire the viewer to seek out similar experiences by revealing to them something novel or missing from their personal journey.