About my work, and painting portraits

A well-painted portrait is a work of art that is timeless and beautiful, something that will be cherished and handed down through future generations. The subject’s expression, posture and body language all tell us who they are. If i were unable to draw their eyelids, for instance, then capturing the subtleties of their expression would become a chance thing, hit or miss at best, and the result will be a mere approximation of the sitter.

So many contemporary artists struggle with drawing, never mind mixing accurate and sensitive color. Poor quality materials are often used, such as pigments that turn brittle and crack; oils that darken and yellow within a few years; canvas (which should never be used unless affixed to a strong panel) which is poorly primed and doomed to fail. I don’t say these things to be mean or critical. Art education today is a joke, and the majority of art professors have no knowledge of best painting practices. A quick search proves these points.

It is my belief and experience that the best way for me to capture what is most beautiful about my subject is through my ability to perceive and articulate what is true about them. I promise, with humility, that i can draw any subject and match any color i see with near-perfect accuracy.

My working methods directly link me to the great portrait painters and studios of past centuries. My mastery of archival materials, the highest quality small-batch paint, and time-tested techniques of previous centuries allows me to concentrate on capturing the essence of my subject. I even go so far as to refine my own linseed oil by hand, starting with raw flax seed oil. This produces an oil that is very stable and dries quickly.

While working from life is exciting, and a great way for me to get to know my subject, it’s rare today that a person can devote eight hours a day to sitting for their portrait. I’ve found that combining sketches, color studies and composition studies done from direct observation with excellent reference photos allows me the best of both worlds. If i had not worked from life for years, honing my ability to see (as opposed to looking) and observe not just physical forms but the emotional characteristics of my subject, then i would not be able to transcend photography and extract the key, essential information unique to the individual sitter. But all those years of direct observation and practice allow me to see and extract the essence of my subject, resulting in portraits that reveal the inner person through a beautiful description of the outer person.

My goal is to make portraits that exceed all expectations. Even though the majority of portrait artists today cannot achieve a truthful resemblance, this is just the beginning for me. I believe that a successful portrait goes far beyond likeness, and into realms of deeper and eternal truth. As a painter, and very much unlike a photographer, i am always refining and editing my observations of my sitter. This takes place throughout the painting process. I am amplifying and abstracting those characteristics which bring about the most truthful and beautiful result that reveals the sitter’s personality and character in a way that no photograph can. I do this until i hear the painting breathe, until it looks back at me with awareness.

Because a portrait is an intimate partnership between my client and myself, clear and open communication is critical. Working directly with the client is the surest way to guarantee that , therefore the best results will come from me working directly with you, my client, to insure that your goals and desires are met and exceeded. If you are ready to start exploring the commission process please contact me now.

My personal work can be seen at these galleries:

The Marshall Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ
Haynes Galleries, Thomaston, ME
Principle Gallery, Alexandria, VA

In the past I’ve shown with these galleries:

Spanierman Galleries, New York City, NY
Scottsdale Fine Arts, Scottsdale, AZ
Arcadia Gallery, New York City, NY
Cavalier Galleries, Greenwich, CT
Explorations Gallery, New York City, NY
Klaudia Marr Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
Skotia Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
Quidley Gallery, Boston, MA
Susan Powell Fine Art, Madison, CT

And I have work in the collection of The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY

Richard