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.
Stories about how art inspires and changes us.