What inspired your winning entry? This is a portrait of my granddaughter, Yvonne. Over the years, I have observed her porcelain skin, wild Celtic hair, and big personality. She is witty, intelligent, and assured. The setting I chose, a dragon screen and Chinese bench, is unlikely for a child’s portrait. However, Yvonne, with threatening dragons dancing around her head, looked straight at the viewer with determination and a bit of inquisitiveness. I dressed her in a gown reminiscent of the Pre-Raphaelites, whom I greatly admire. As she posed for me, the title of the painting came to me—Rudyard Kipling’s poem, If.
What are you trying to convey to the viewer in this piece and in your work in general? I wanted the viewer to stop and seriously look at her in the same way one looks at portraits of adult subjects. Children are more knowing than we think. Technically, I wanted viewers to appreciate the beauty of the fabric’s embroidery and the inlaid wood that represents the finest of Chinese culture. And finally, the painting brings two unlikely worlds together—the innocence of a child and the chaos of the world that surrounds us all.
What artists, living or deceased, have influenced your work? Nelson Shanks is my icon for living artists. He is the ultimate portrait artist. I use his palette of colors, and I have adapted some of his techniques as my own.
What galleries represent your work? West End Gallery, Richmond, VA; International Arts Gallery, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Featured in the December 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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