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Sandy, portrait and photo

The portrait of Sandy was a unique challenge.

Sandy had passed away tragically in 1976, and the family’s primary portrait of their beloved son, brother, husband and father was a drastically faded 16” x 24” framed photo. To avoid losing this treasured image to the ravages of time, they decided to have a painting created based on the photo.

I was honored to be chosen as the artist, and felt tremendous responsibility to the family as I worked from such limited reference material to create a portrait of a young man I had never met. In addition to its poor condition, the photograph was also constrained in time. I wanted to convey a sense of Sandy within his time, but sought a rendering of him that would nudge his image towards timelessness.

Something interesting happens as I live with an image, or images, of a person whose likeness I am seeking to portray. I get a feeling for that person, almost as if they are communicating something of themselves to me. With patience, the person becomes familiar. I counted on the assistance of that experience as I studied Sandy’s face.

I requested other photographs and was generously provided a few snapshots with glimpses of him at different ages and angles. While they were not useful for any detail, I did use them to help me fill out a sense of his personality, and of the relationships in his life. I hoped, in turn, I could infuse his portrait with that sense of him.

I held my breath when I delivered the finished artwork. I left it with the family so they could be sure all who knew and loved him had a chance to respond to this new image. I was thrilled when they reported that all were pleased with this portrait of Sandy.