I didn't know the person I was painting. And this will not be an uncommon aspect in my career as an artist. This is one of those times in general when it becomes most apparent that as artists, we put ourselves into our work. To paint something deeper than a likeness without knowing the person can be a bit tricky. So if we are injecting a feeling, then it inevitably has to be our own. This is also an example of the incredible connection of the nature of things and the contagiousness of energy. When we paint what is indefinitely our own feeling, and especially when we feel very strongly, it will always hit a universal chord. That's not to say that everyone will feel the same about the painting, but there will be something being said that will touch a place deeper than the surface. And I think it would make sense to hope for different interpretations too. What made this one tough were the feelings that I had that were caused by the things I saw. Ultimately, it's up to me to influence the energy in the right direction.
My client was a close friend to Scott's family. She gave me photos to work from, and could give me feedback as to whether she thought it looked like him and I could get a sense by her comments and reactions whether it felt like him or not. In this portrait, there is nothing being said about the visuals that were committed to memory from the incident in Fallujah. This could make for a very powerful message, but would entail painting an entirely different type of portrait. It was important to me that I did not have any of that energy in this painting . This commission was to be straightforward in the physical nature of the painting. As far as feeling, it is straightforward as well. He has a commanding presence - strong, confident, and happy - and heroic, as he had lived his life. I felt that this was how he and his family and friends would want him to be remembered.
Finished Work In Progress: Portrait in Memory of Scott Helvenston
Posted by <> at 20:48