Interpreting Eyes

Oil on Canvas “Italian Lady”

For the past few months I’ve been working on a posthumous portrait of a 95 yr old woman of great character and life. (She lived to 100). I had the honor of knowing her over the years and I was happy, but daunted  to take on the challenge of painting only from photographs.  I had a good digital one of the subject in bright sunlight (but unfortunately squinting into the sun).  My task was to interpret her eyes and what I knew they conveyed in other moments. It helped a great deal that I knew her remarkable personality.  So I painted that interpretation– still keeping the pose in tact.  The result was quite good, and the work will be added to the website when the background and glazing are complete.

Her son was quite happy.  Ideally, I like to have a number of sittings as well as some good photos.  It is an acquired skill to be able to read or interpret something not necessarily visible at the time.  These are the ‘hidden qualities’ that reveal the inner person.  The great masters  (Rembrandt, Titian, Velasquez)  certainly had  this ability. In my way I try to capture those qualities.