I don’t know how many of you have seen the movie Night at the Museum with Ben Stiller but if you haven’t, it’s about the Museum of Natural History coming to life at night. Wax figures of people like Teddy Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart walk and talk, animals roam freely about, planes fly and there is life in inanimate objects.
I was updating Blythe McGarvie, the subject of my portrait painting, on the progress of her portrait last night when I wrote in an email “It was such a fun day photographing you and KC at Harvard, it brings it all to life while I’m painting.”
My painting is about three-quarters finished, at a stage that at first glace you might think I’m close to finishing. The reality is I still have to work on likeness and paint in lots of tiny details. As I’m painting in those tiny details, I’m painting in life!
Everything in the painting represents something about my two subjects and the final touches will make all the difference: a twinkle in the eye, a shine on the shoes, a glow in the fireplace, a title on books etc…
Painting this portrait brings a smile to my face even after spending all day blocking in books on the bookcase. Six shelves of books varying in size and color, tedious as it all is, with jacket covers reading Pavarotti, Lyric Opera News, Margaret Thatcher, Thomas Wolfe, Fit In Stand Out, etc… represent my subject's thirst for knowledge and her joie de vivre!
I’m enjoying walking into my studio every morning and seeing a painting that gives off such good vibes. As in the movie Night in the Museum, there is a history, a story if you will, behind the people in the painting. A portrait captures a moment in time but also symbolizes the past, the present and the future.
Maybe this is the power of portraiture!