Today I begin my oil portrait painting of Mr. Rafael Eledge. Mr. Eledge is a Civil War Relics authority and appraiser, on the Antiques Roadshow television show. Mr. Eledge is also the owner/dealer of authentic Civil War artifacts at shilohrelics.com in Savannah Tennessee. Over the next few weeks, I invite you to follow along as I paint his portrait and hopefully I will pass along some valuable tips to my artist friends and general public alike.
Painting portraits can be a very demanding and lengthy process. Because Mr. Eledge lives very far from Winchester VA, we agreed to meet in Charleston NC, since we both would be headed there for business about the same time. Working out meetings with clients can be tricky, since you don't want to inconvenience them and need to work around their schedule as well as your own. I was fortunate to get about an hour and a half on our first evening in Charleston. And we met for dinner that evening, which was an extra advantage, since it allowed us to get to know one another and put him at ease a bit. Most folks are nervous about meeting someone, anyone, for the first time. Add to that the fact that someone is going to stick a camera in their face and scrutinize their appearance and you get a very uncomfortable situation for the client. It would have been ideal to have an entire afternoon to do some pencil and oil sketches, but life is not always ideal. So dinner was an extra way to relax the client before the photo session. It gave me extra time to observe the subject in a very natural setting also. This allows me to see how the subject naturally sits, positions his head, and in general interact with what is going on around him. This can be very important. Painting someone in a position they would naturally take while sitting or standing can go a long way to the painting successfully representing the client.
I see my job as, portraying my client in a positive light. Digging deep to find the clients inner personality as well as their outer appearance. This is not flattery, this is an impression I am looking for and trying to convey. Also, looking for the right tilt of the head, or turning the face slightly to enhance the shadows and create a more pleasing profile is not flattery, it is the essence of good portraiture.