I have a new found respect for portrait artists. Painting a portrait is really hard! I had a lot of fun giving it a try these past few weeks. And I learned a tremendous amount. One thing I learned is that I need to find a portrait drawing class in my area to take! I spoke with my father, who is an artist in Colorado, and told him what project I was in the middle of. He bluntly told me that if I ever wanted to be decent at painting - I needed to draw, draw, draw. Good advice.
I also realized just how much we think we know what someone looks like, especially those closest to us, when really we haven't taken the time to know every detail that makes them, well - them. The slightest upturn of the nose, the curve of the eyelid, the roundness of the cheek: if any of these are just a hair off - the picture will no longer look like the subject. I think I redid the lips on this portrait seven times and still feel like I didn't quite "get it". It is all of those specific, unique details that scream out to us of the fact that we are "Fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139) by the hands of a brilliant Creator and not as a result of the mishaps of evolution.
Then of course, just when you may really know what someone looks like they change in appearance, especially at this young adult stage that my subject happens to be in. She will never again be at that twelve year old "little girl on the verge of growing up" stage. That look is fleeting. I wanted to try and capture it while it was still there. It seems like everyday she is changing and leaning more towards the grown up look instead of the little girl look I was so used to. Which may be why, unfortunately, I think my painting ended up looking a little too old. Try as I did, I think she is looking more like sixteen then twelve (and I'm certaintly not ready for that!)
For ten years she was the baby in our family until Sophia was born two years ago. Then all of sudden she started growing up. Isn't it funny how that happens? And it's not just the looks that change but, the personality too. She is beginning to find her own likes and dislikes. Her full name is Victoria Grace and she was named that because it is a testament, after a difficult time right before her birth, of God's victorious grace on our lives. About a year ago she decided that she didn't like that name and wanted to be called Tori. It about broke my heart! I didn't say anything when her friends began calling her that or when she began signing her name that way, but I refused to call her that. Recently I have realized that she is her own person and it really might be a case of needing to choose my battles. So I signed all of her Christmas presents "To: Tori". I know it might not seem like a big deal - but it was huge for me! It was a small way of acknowledgeing the fact that she is growing up. Although I am sure during the times in the future when she is acting like a child and gets herself into trouble, she will be hearing the full fledged "Victoria Grace!" when I call her!
One thing that seems to never change in her is that sweet smile and big bright eyes. I am pleased that I was able to capture in the painting somewhat of that sweet essence that she has.
This painting was so fun to do (and I have so much more to learn!) that I have a whirlwind of ideas for other portraits running through my mind. I may return to portaits after I finish up a couple of other projects that are waiting to be completed.