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Self-portrait

I've been sketching everything in sight since I was old enough to hold a pencil, but the thing I wanted to sketch the most has always been people. When bored in school I would invariably wind up sketching the teacher.

"Betsy! What are you doing? Bring that up here!" she would snap, and I would meekly walk to the front of the class and hand over the suspect paper. But upon seeing it, she would change her tone and say, "Oh! May I keep that?" And so I figured that I had a future as an artist.

I've always enjoyed and been fascinated by people. As a television news reporter, I loved interviewing an endless variety of subjects to learn not only the newsworthy thing that they were doing, but also what motivated them to do it. Human character is a source of endless interest to me – it's what makes the world go around. I still interview and observe people to discover and uncover the character within. But instead of putting them on video, I now portray my subjects in oils on canvas, producing not fleeting moments, but keepsakes that capture what I like to think is the essential spirit of the person.

It amazes me how the tilt of a brow, or the curl of a lip or a finger tip sends a message, alters the demeanor, hints at the thoughts and soul of the person inside. I look for the natural and characteristic gesture, the revealing glance or turn. Then I carefully select a setting and light that magnify the subject's personality, be it moody, mysterious, or sunny and bright. As the painting begins, I revel in capturing the play of light as it slowly reveals the forms and textures, changes colors from cool to warm or reverse. I love the constant selecting and editing – what shape is important, what line to leave out, what edge needs softening or removing altogether? The painting should capture the essence – the strength or joy of the character, nothing more.



 
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