Blog / 2020 / Doing the Thing I Said I’d Never Do

May 19, 2020

From the beginning of my career, I swore that, no matter how much I had to adapt in order to make my way as an artist, the one thing I would never budge on was my portrait process. I have to meet people before I paint them. Period.

But then COVID-19 rewrote so much of our daily lives, forcing me to reevaluate much of my artistic practice. Until further notice, I will no longer be interviewing and photographing the subjects of my portraits in person. Instead, I will be working from photos you provide to make the paintings.

This makes me nervous:

  • Because even though people are taking more photos than ever thanks to smartphones, most of these pics are still pretty flat, since they weren’t taken with proper lighting and good equipment.
  • Because snapshots like these rarely convey the subject’s eye, hair, or skin colors accurately.
  • Because my painting process isn’t just a digital filter applied to a photo, but a complex process of building up rich layers of paint and feeling.

It’s also a little bit inspiring:

  • Because I won’t be putting anyone in danger.
  • Because I can finally accept international portrait commission work even when I am not traveling.
  • Because a change in my art practice means new discoveries about my art and myself.

If you’re interested in commissioning a portrait, this page explains the new process in detail, including the new price list.

This is one of the last “live” portraits I’ll get to paint for a while—I have just one more commission that I started pre-pandemic and that’s still in the works. It will certainly be interesting figuring out how to capture a similar dynamism without meeting portrait subjects in person!

painting of Long Beach Island’s Cricket Luker and her grandson
Gwenn Seemel
Levi and Cricket
2020
acrylic on canvas
24 x 30 inches
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