Blog / 2022 / The Many Faces of a Portrait

November 28, 2022

[video transcript]

Learn more about Kelly, the subject of this portrait, on her site. Her portrait along with the rest Friend Request is on display in Winifred Weiss’ studio window in Lambertville, New Jersey, and the show has been extended into December!

Winifred’s studio window
17 Church Street
(at the intersection with George)
Lambertville, NJ 08530

Open: now through December 12th
Hours: whenever (you can look in from the street)

Lambertville artist Kelly Sullivan acrylic painted portrait, created by Gwenn Seemel with dynamic brushstrokes
Gwenn Seemel
acrylic on paper
7 x 5 inches

Portrait paintings almost never look like their subject the whole time you’re working on them. And in this case, where I painted two portraits of the same person from the same reference photo in order to make one finished artwork, that’s especially clear.

In the first version of Kelly’s portrait, the painting looked a lot like Kelly until it really didn’t. That’s when I decided to scrap the image. It just felt overworked.

In the final version of Kelly’s portrait, the painting looked a complete mess for a large portion of the process, and then, like a camera lens coming into focus, it finally clicked into place.

I think this is part of what makes portraiture so hard: you have to hold onto your certainty as an artist. With non-portraits, an artist can decide a painting is done when the paint looks right, but a portrait can only be complete when it looks like the person who inspired it.

This video is made with love and microdonations from my community!

Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!


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