March 2024

Paint an exact likeness?

If I wanted to paint an exact likeness of someone, I wouldn’t. I’d take a photograph.

Likewise, if I wanted to capture every wrinkle, every spot, every minor ‘disfigurement’, out would come the camera. And what you would get is a flat one-dimensional copy of someone you know.

A person, even if you don’t know them very well, is more, much more than that.

I like to think that a painted portrait is one way to capture that elusive and mysterious, ‘more’.

Of course, there has to be something with in the completed picture that the viewer can recognise as the person portrayed but also, that something extra that allows them in ‘deeper’. Something, beyond. More than just an image. For want of a better word, essence.

If you meet someone in the street that you know reasonably well, you are not just confronted with an image. There is more to a person than that. Something within us allows to take note of the space that they take up and the warmth, the life that they give out. Everything that makes them unique. Everything that makes them, them.

Whereas a photograph can give us an outline a painting can in its own mysterious way dig deeper to show the many sometimes indescribable factors that go to make up a living, breathing person.

Within a painting, within a ‘successful’ painting there is an ingredient X. An indescribable factor that is almost impossible to capture. It is elusive, magical and actually, invisible to the naked eye. It is a moment in time. It is fleeting but oddly, strangely, not impossible to capture.

And that moment when you have got it?

You will know.