My paintings are simple and straight forward. There are no hidden agendas, deep meaning or abstraction. If I’m painting a commission piece my aim is to capture the likeness and emotion of the event as accurately as possible. I ask clients to think about what is/was important to the subject. I love when I have a chance to tell a story about a person’s life rather than just creating their likeness. Do they collect something? Are they especially good at something? Are they an advocate for a specific cause? What makes them tick? What are they proud of? When a client shows up with a box full of mementos about the subject’s life; my creative juices start running. It’s wonderful when a conversation leads to the perfect composition.
Despite the fact that she was gone long before I really got serious about painting, my Grandmother Pearl influenced much of my direction and painting philosophy. One of my most prominent memories is of her starting out each day looking out the kitchen window sipping tea from the same lavender flowered, porcelain cup and saucer. The early water color painting I did of her showed only the slightest hint of her profile. Anyone could envision their own curly, blue/gray haired Grandma in the painting but anyone who knew Pearl, knew it was her – because of the cup and saucer. Unfortunately, this painting and my whole collection of water colors went up in flame during a house fire in 1998. I mourned the loss of my collection. I didn’t paint for years. When I started painting again I tried, unsuccessfully, to recreate the paintings lost which, we all know, is impossible – particularly with water color. This was a real lemon to lemon-aide moment because at that point I decided to change media and devote my efforts to painting people in oil.
Today, although many clients may want a portrait, they may not be as interested in the traditional three quarter static bust as they used to be. Many are more inclined to want a fine art piece with the likeness of their loved one embedded in it. That way, anyone looking at the painting can enjoy it even if they don’t know the subject. Many times I’ll accomplish this by placing subjects in similar poses and costumes as some of the old masters like Bougureau, Harlamoff and Vermeer.
When the last college tuition payment was sent off, I drew up my “bucket list.” It included learning to fly, playing piano, becoming proficient at painting portraits, sculpting and learning a foreign language. I haven’t made it to the sculpting of foreign language yet but…… I’m living the dream. I am an instrument rated pilot. I play piano well enough for my own pleasure.
It is always my hope that collaborating with a client to develop a fine art piece or portrait that captures one of “their moments” will allow them to keep their special story alive for generations to come.
My husband, Michael, and I live in St. Louis. More of my work can be seen at www.hopperart.com