Blog / 2021 / Lacking Simplicity
February 6, 2021
This is the second portrait of this mother-daughter pair that I’ve painted. It’s a special treat to be commissioned more than once to paint the same people, and I wish more people would do it.
My first portrait is from a few years ago. It captures a quiet moment, and, though I love it so much, I’m still glad that I got a second chance.
Because one likeness can never perfectly and completely represent a person—let alone two people interacting! I’m delighted I got to paint this mom and her child in a more dynamic mood, and I know that if I’m invited to paint them again one day I’ll find more layers to portray. Humans are so deliciously complex.
This truth has shaped my entire career ever since I received my first real critique from my high school art teacher, a person who antagonized me far more than they ever taught me but who also deserves a bit of credit. They observed that my art lacked simplicity. While I knew it was meant as a slight, this feedback stirred something deep in me.
Life is unabashedly intricate, very much entangled with itself. While the desire to simplify in art or in other areas is healthy in some cases, it’s not automatically wholesome. In fact, I think that, in today’s black and white world of internet polarization, acknowledging complexity is more important than boiling things down to the most straightforward expression. And, if that means I have to paint a person more than once in order to really portray all of who they are, well that’s just a bonus!
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