Painting a Portrait

portrait painted by Mary Jane Volkmann

I just finished my first commission of 2015: a portrait.  As many of you know, I love painting interesting faces from our garden of humanity.  It is an unfolding process of inner and outer communication.

Painting someone I don’t know let’s me wander a bit further than I can when I work on a specific person. A slip of the brush can bring out an interesting nuance or expression I hadn’t intended but which harmonizes well with my thoughts at the time.  My imagination constantly drifts in wonder as to what forces have shaped the person and I question myself about what my own life might have been like if I had been born into another skin, another family, country, culture, climate or economic class.  I wonder what the person has seen or experienced in the course of his or her years.

While I may ask similar questions while painting a specific person, whether known to me or not, I have to be stricter in my portrayal, remembering that this is someone who is well known to those who see him or her daily and who is dearly loved by them.  What do they see that I don’t? What do I see that they don’t?  My challenge is to overcome the technical frustrations and challenges while striving to grasp, understand and capture a reflection of something of the inner essence of the person I am painting.  I believe it is only that which makes the painting come to life.

At the end of the process the painting is delivered and my studio wall is noticeably empty.  I smile.  I’ve been on an amazing journey.

~Mary Jane

 

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  1. Vida Stendardo (née Taherzadeh)

    Mary Jane, you have captured my friend PERFECTLY in this magnificent portrait!

  2. Kathleen Hite Babb

    Stunning!! The typically gorgeous work of Mary Jane Volkmann. I just love your style, dear friend. I still have your book of Nambia and the stamps you so generously gave me. I miss our conversations.

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