More portraits

Art critics are bored with landscapes and portraits. Here are some comments.

Michael Archer,
“Why does mention of portraiture make me snort with derision? For the sitter, to have one’s portrait painted is to indulge in a preposterous bit of self aggrandizement, while to be a jobbing portrait painter is to exercise the lucrative employment of one’s skills in a manner that has nothing to do with contemporary art…………The figure in history is what matters. As with landscape, portraiture becomes pertinent when it breaks out of its straightjacket and offers something more than a tastefully composed and skillfully executed representation of someone”

There you have it, another miserable critic who likes Mickey Mouse better than classical portraiture. However several things can lead to a portrait becoming an important piece of art.
a) The painter becomes famous,
b) The subject becomes famous or
c) The portrait is placed in a bigger context as the one I have shown below.

The portrait had become a pixel in another picture. Bonded by fate we all have our part in the bigger picture.
Each portrait (16×16 inches) becomes a pixel in another picture. Bonded by fate we all have our part in the bigger picture. Individually we are one drop, together, we make an ocean.

I came up with portraiture as a way to know the people around me better than I would by having small talk over a glass of wine. I feel it is the most sincere way I can bond with people. A painted portrait of a person adds additional value to a moment in time because it is seen through the eyes of an artist. I am not only looking at your features but at the many colors of the life you have lived, the sorrow as well as the joy. This third dimension is only possible through the use of paint. It might not be as accurate, but it has a lot more life than a photograph. My goal is to let your soul shine through the (marked) surface.

These days it is hardly ever done, but there was a time when wealthy people have had their portraits painted by famous artists. Now it is seen as a self-aggrandizing attempt to immortalize a human being. I however, find it rewarding to bring the people I know together, into a bigger picture. What you have in common is that I know you.

Do you ever feel that your life has passed you by without you ever having been part of something bigger? This can be a depressing thought. Just being a grain of sand in the desert is not how we like to think about ourselves. On the other hand, most of us can not envision our image captured on canvas, wearing exquisite clothes, staring out from a museum wall.

My idea of painting the portraits and then putting them in a larger piece of art was to uplift each of us to something that matters to society as a whole, maybe even to mankind. Together we have more value. Think about the possibility that the artist Jacobina Trump will be famous one day, You added to that fame. Imagine that you yourself will be famous one day. You now have added value to all the others who share space with you in the Bigger Picture.

Each portrait will be numbered, documented and will go into history like a brick in a wall of a great building. Why not be a part of it?


November 30th 2015

Testimonial D.Hahn,

Thinking about a portrait vs. a photo: A photo can be very realistic, sometimes unforgivingly, and a real portrait in any medium can be costly. 

                 I have had several family photo portraits done over the years, we have gravitated to well known portrait photographers, but honestly the occasional “lucky” photo shot is almost as good, even with the retouching and so on.  But a painting is different. 

                Photos have really no value in today’s world. Since every phone has a camera, and selfie sticks are under $5, if you want a photo of yourself you can have hundreds for practically nothing. If you find some you like, just pick out the one you want and print it.  Or pick from a pile. Take a look at Facebook. Everyone has photos, they have become a cheap visual diary.  

               A portrait though, in my mind, has value, it can be/should be an heirloom and passed from generation to generation.  I have a portrait gallery in my home, portraits of my grandfathers, one grand mother and even great grand mother. I have photos of my parents, and of course my living family, but at some point, portraits are my choice of heirloom images. I am hoping to make (paint) a portrait of my father (who died in 1975) in your class from photos I have of him. If it comes out, then maybe my mother whom I lost only several years ago at age 92.

               Do I see the “big picture”?  I get the concept. But it’s a huge idea and I think you will need more than the 120+ images you mentioned.

December 1 2015

Testimonial G. Leadbetter

In this modern era a portrait is so unique, as everybody has photographs.  A well done portrait has character and conveys a message, which no photograph could ever do.  The message that you perceive  may not be real, but that only adds to the enjoyment.

    The uniqueness of  a portrait creates interest together with the desire to have one.nA well done portrait is an excellent heirloom to be enjoyed by all members of the family.I don’t believe a single portrait will add to community cohesion, unless the subject is well known and admired in the community. On the other hand a piece of art featuring many members of the community will definitely add to community cohesion. Everybody in the art work will be proud to have had the opportunity to participate.

December 5 2015

Testimonial M. Leadbetter 

The painting is an expression of the painter’s insight into the person.  It conveys a deeper meaning than a photograph. A photograph is accurate depiction of the person, but not as flattering.Painted portraits are usually done of well to do people and folks with an artistic bent.  Having your portrait done is normal for famous people. For many of us, it was not even a consideration. I like having the paintings in our great room. It makes the room look richer.


The value is to the person and his or her partner.  Others may see a work of art and enjoy paintings. I do.  Art enriches peoples lives and bring pleasure. I understand The Bigger picture but don’t know.

How to sell Art

“Write a blog about how you sell your art.” a friend suggested the other day.

10x10 inches, oil on linen
10×10 inches, oil on linen

“You have been living from your paintings for five years now, I want to know how you do it”

Tossing and turning in the middle of the night, I thought about this question; “How do I sell my art? What is my business model?” Watching the early morning mist over the neighbors Christmas decorations, I realized I have no business model.

I’ve written before about how every time I needed money badly it seems to come to me out of the blue. There was a phone call from a woman  in Nebraska, mail from a man in Wisconsin and a knock on my door from a neighbor who wanted to buy a painting he had seen. Once in awhile I get a Facebook text from Joyce de Jonge who owns a furniture store in the Netherlands asking me where to deposit the money for a painting she’s sold.

10x10 inches 25x25 cm, oil on linen
10×10 inches 25×25 cm, oil on linen

Not having a business model does keep me up at night because if I don’t have a plan about how to generate income, it is just a matter of praying and believing, which does not equal financial stability. To be more specific, every plan I thought would work out, did not. It was always a surprise when money came in, so I also want to “know” how to sell paintings.

I’ve had a client come over by private jet from Indianapolis, purchase a large  painting and then leave with, the rolled up canvas in the cockpit. I also had a client who came to my studio after seeing a painting of mine he liked in a local store. He had a penthouse up for sale in Sarasota and needed something on the walls and bought five paintings!. Another client has bought 25 pieces over the past two years  to decorate her new house. Everybody came from totally different places. I didn’t “plan” for any of it.

20x24 inches, oil on linen
20×24 inches, oil on linen

Then there’s the collector who only buys from Facebook.  She knows the value of my work and likes the way I handle her orders.  The most recent sale was to a German gentleman who I met at a seminar about personal growth. I mailed him photos of my work. He liked it and paid in Euros.

Here is his reaction,…..You see I haven’t showed it to many people but everyone who has seen the original is quite impressed. Congrats! WELL DONE. SUCH A GREAT PIECE OF ART. For me this is such a great experience because I learn to trust my intuition and my taste for quality! I look forward to see the painting at it’s real value. I won’t sell it below 50.000 euro. And at this price I’d only sell it to see the increase of value and help creating more increase of value. I think art can best increase in value If it changes owner from time to time. 

This is how  my “ business model” works, with no rhyme or reason. But If I dig deep in my subconscious,  I believe  I had a picture of what I would like to have happen in a certain circumstance. When I put an effort in a pop-up gallery, I did meet my most devoted client. I had a vision. It was my deepest desire and I knew I only needed one person who would really appreciate my work. When I send messages out on the Internet I know I only need one person to fulfill my desire. So now at home I envision selling my inventory to one collector. I have seen it, so now it is a matter of waiting for reality to catch up.

Seagrapes in Spring, oil on linen 10x10 inches,
Seagrapes in Spring, oil on linen 10×10 inches,

Is this a business model? Not one that I would recommend to anybody else, I think it might just be mine.

Lucian Freud

Man with a Blue Scarf

Portrait painting is fascinating to me. I have been doing it for many years although never with the purpose of really dedicating myself to the process. Over the years I have been drawn to portraits as a means to discover the soul of humans, the story they reveal about themselves with or without words. For a while, I painted my ancestors with their wealth stuck to their heads in ornaments of gold.

A couple of years ago I read a book about portrait painting written by an art critic. Lucian Freud, perhaps the world’s leading portrait painter, spent seven months painting a portrait of the art critic Martin Gayford. I want to share this with you because it provides insight to the details of the process. Man With a Blue Scarf,  by the way, became the title after the model lost his scarf. His wife suggested he buy another one, which Martin did. The color was not exactly the same. The painter noticed immediately that this was not the same piece of fabric.

A review about the book states the following; “Gayford describes the process chronologically, from the day he arrived for the first sitting through to his meeting with the couple who bought the finished painting, and he vividly conveys what it is like to be on the inside of the process of creating a work of art.

As Freud completes his portrait of Gayford, so the art critic produces his own portrait of the artist, giving a rare insight into Freud’s working practice. Through their wide-ranging conversations, the reader learns not only about Freud’s choice of models, lighting, setting, pose, and colors, but also about his likes and dislikes, his encounters and experiences, and the ways in which he approaches his relationship with each portrait subject. The book is full of revealing anecdotes about the people Freud has met in the course of his long career, including Max Ernst, Man Ray, Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, George Orwell, W. H. Auden, Greta Garbo, and his grandfather Sigmund Freud.

“As he works – shielding his eyes, a quiver of brushes between his fingers, dabbing the canvas “like a person making contact with something hot” – Freud mutters and sighs, criticizing the latest mark, goading himself onwards. This could be any portrait painter at the easel; indeed the painterly process from charcoal underdrawing to claggy conclusion is the least interesting part of the book, partly because how they are made is so evident in the paintings.

As for the old masters, Freud’s insights are piercing and astringent. He cannot love Vermeer for the “curious way his people just aren’t there”. He believes every good painting contains, indeed requires, “a little bit of poison”. It is a pity he doesn’t give more examples, but the poison in Titian – his god – is a sense of mortality; precisely what people see in Freud himself.” – NAME of BOOK