According to Pliny the Elder, the invention of drawing/painting occurred when a Corinthian maiden traced the profile of her lover using charcoal and the shadow of his face on a wall. He was about to depart for war, and it was a way to remember him by.
During my What’s Love Got to Do With It? residency at The Banff Centre, I was thinking a lot about love and art. I thought about my practice of portraiture and how I understood it as an act of love. In my art practice, I work in two veins: personal and public. There are the personal portraits of friends, family and loves; and there are the pop culture portraits of people. In this instance, I am talking only about the personal portraits. When creating a portrait of someone I am close to, it is an intimate act. When there is love, whether it is platonic or romantic, that goes into the work; this can also become a very sensual act as well. I will spend hours looking at the portrait subject’s face, both through the photograph I am working from as well as the painting I am creating. Looking into one’s eyes, studying every line of one’s face; the shape of the eyes, nose, and lips; and how the hair falls just so. I will spend hours to weeks focused on this one person. And I do not paint at arm’s distance. The amount of detail that I put into my artwork requires that I be physically very close to its surface while I’m working. The entire process is not unlike the intimacy of studying a lover’s face.
Creating a portrait, for me, is a very personal investment and intimate act. I only draw/paint those that I like or love.
These are the drawn portraits of my fellow Banff artists-in-residence, who I became close friends with over the course of my residency in early 2011. The drawings were created, in the final days of my residency, as an act of both love and remembrance.