Before there were selfies and social media websites, there was the portrait. Unlike the millions of selfies posted each day, a portrait is special. It doesn’t strive for perfection, rather it embraces the essence of a person. It’s not the tenth take of the same pose to capture the best angle, and there are no filters to enhance the image. It is raw, one of a kind and what I like to call imperfectly perfect.
A few years ago I found an old, tiny photo of my mom and me at the beach. I fell in love with it right away, and decided to make a portrait of her. As I studied myself in her arms, my little chubby hands tightly grasped around her neck and shoulders, and the way she held me closely to her on that warm summer day at the beach, I particularly noticed her smile. It was naturally radiating, happiness of the purest kind.
I realized how precious that moment was for her. I believe that the happiest and most fulfilling time in my mom’s life was taking care of us when we were young children. Although we drove her crazy, we gave her purpose like no other. Still today, anytime she is around babies or young children that rare smile comes out again. She is one of those people who is a forever nurturer. I humbly hope I was able to capture that wonderful essence of my mom in the portrait I created from that tiny photo taken thirty-five plus years ago.
A portrait is so much more than an image of a person. Through portraits we see people in a different light, we gain insight to their quirks, interests, and personality. We connect with them through these insights based on our own interests, beliefs and personalities. When we look at a portrait, or any artwork for that matter, it is essential to know and understand the story behind it in order to gain a deeper appreciation.
So the next time you come across a portrait that catches your eye, I encourage you to find out the story behind it. It happens rarely, but on occasion, you may find yourself surprised by the intimate relationship that you develop with an artwork; and when it does happen, it will change you.
When artists view the world, I believe that we see the brightest colors even more vividly and the darkest places even more disturbing. We see beauty in simple things that most may feel are unworthy of a glance; and sometimes we see ugliness in those things deemed most beautiful. We render images from both reality and our imaginations, trying to capture these moments of clarity onto canvas, with the hope of one day sharing them with the world.
Most of all we are observers of the utmost degree. I often think of Edward Hopper’s intimate paintings, capturing private moments in people’s homes, on their front porches, and in their bedrooms. While his voyeurism could be viewed as invasive, ultimately people are fascinated by his paintings. After all, the most alluring and captivating moments in our lives always end up being tied to our connection with each other.
When I seek out inspiration for my paintings, I’m often moved by the places I visit, and the people whom I might connect with along the way. Currently I’m painting a seascape of Cannon Beach from one of my most recent travels. As I paint, I can smell the salt in the air and I can feel the cold rain on my face from that day. I can recall all of the sweet moments of my adventures on that trip. I hope that when others see my final artwork, that they too might feel the cold rain on their face and smell the salt in the air. I think that often art is meant to take us away from the mundane in our lives, if only for a brief moment.
So the next time you look at a piece of art, I encourage you to really look at it. See what the artist saw, feel what the artist felt, and I’d like to think that you may walk away with a deeper appreciation of life and all of the crazy, strange, sad, stupid, wonderful, intimate moments that happen to us and all around us every day.
Shop art at https://www.saatchiart.com/danielaart
When I was in my graduate program at Columbia College Chicago, one of my professors insisted that if I wanted to make it in the art world, I had to focus on creating a collection of similar works of art to get noticed. That moment affected me profoundly, and for the longest time I struggled with this idea of finding my style. Eventually I realized that many of the great artists experimented with different styles; some throughout their entire lives. The thing about listening to other people’s advice is that while you should always take it into consideration, if it doesn’t sit well with you, let it go!
When it comes to creating art, my style often changes depending on the mood that I’m in. At times I am very meticulous, striving for the utmost perfection, making every effort to capture the smallest detail. At other times my emotions control the brush, pushing out all of those uncontrollable feelings onto canvas. While perhaps there are subtle similarities throughout, one can clearly see different styles in my work.
I draw, I paint, and yes, sometimes I’m even a printmaker. I’m messy, controlled, and often somewhere in between. The beautiful thing about being an artist (and human for that matter) is that I’m filled with emotions and affected by my surroundings, situations, and choices. All of these factors influence the variety of styles and subject matter in my artwork, in turn providing intrinsic value and meaning.
Some may say that I haven’t quite decided what kind of artist I want to be. It’s similar to how most if not all of us stereotype others. We want to categorize and compartmentalize everyone and everything into little, concise groups because it makes us feel that there is a certain order to the world.
I say, however, that constricting yourself to a particular style or niche with the sole purpose of building a collection for the big guys, only hinders your creativity. If we do not change, we do not grow.
To all of you rising artists out there making personal and meaningful work, make something new, innovate, break the rules, and never feel as though you can’t change your process or style. The answer is always yes you can!
Stories about how art inspires and changes us.