#HamArt – Commissioning a Portrait (Part 2)

This summer, I decided to have a portrait painting done of my 6 year old daughter by the Hamilton Artist – Christina Sealey.

Why a portrait painting?

Self-Portrait -acrylics on canvas
Self-Portrait -acrylics on canvas

It’s funny, we take thousands of photos of ourselves but none of them come close to matching a portrait painting.

First, it is rare that someone is able to take the time to study your face, your eyes, or your posture and then sum it up in a good photograph.

Second, even if they can, the photograph will suffer the same fate as all photos – it will become dated the moment it is taken.

Cameras cannot help but capture all of the details that make up the moment.  The camera captures all the conventions, styles, colors and technologies that define this moment from another moment. As a result, as time passes and we grow more distant from that moment, we come to recognize that the image is not timeless after all.

Artists, on the other, cannot capture all the details and so they must summarize the image.

Furthermore, the work is created not in a moment but across a period of days, weeks or months.  As a result, the image we see in a painting is more closely connected with the image that we recall from our memories.

This is why I choose to have a portrait painting done of my oldest daughter.

Why Christina Sealey?

Christina is a great artist from Hamilton, Ontario.

I first saw her work back in 2002 at Artist’s Inc, a local artist cooperative that was located on Vine Street in Hamilton (now on James Street North).

I was deeply impressed by her traditional painting skills and her exploration of individuals set within an urban (Hamilton) landscapes.

You know you have encountered a great artist when you stand before one of their painting and are able to recall the details of the work weeks or even years later.

I often tell people that Christina’s work remains me of the great German Artist, Max Beckmann (1884-1950); particularly during the 1920s period.

Imagine living in the 1920s and commissioning a work by Beckmann. Today, it would take me years to save enough to afford a small pencil sketch.

While Christina’s paintings are not cheap, I can still afford to have a middle size portrait.

In July, we did the introductions with my daughter who, of course, went mute at the meeting.  We are now waiting for the concept drawings that will give us a clue about what the finish work may look like.

As an artist, I appreciate that it is best not to impose expectations on Christina – either in terms of final results or timelines.

If you want a creative work of art and not a widget then you have to believe in the Artist and be confident that you will get something of value.

Christina Sealey is currently showing until September 28th at the Nathaniel Hughson Art Gallery at 27 John Street North (http://nathanielhughsongallery.com).

You can also view her past work at (http://christinasealey.com).

Published by Chris Erskine

Inspired by architecture and landscapes, my art explores our relationship to place, memory and identity. As a mid career artist, my art practice includes: painting, murals, short films, and sound art.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

ELizabeth Gardens Community Art Project

Creating Art Based on Your Stories and Photos


You are now looking at a demo of the Rebalance theme by Automattic


A Chronicle of the people of the Methodist Church in Canada

Spinnaker Films: ブログ

オーストラリア、ニュージーランド、タヒチ 撮影コーディネーター


This is the official web site of the Save Century Manor Task Force 2 (CMTF2). This task force was created not only to draw attention to the existence of Century Manor, an important Hamilton heritage building in danger of demolition by neglect, but also to provide information on Century Manor and to gain support within and outside our community for our ongoing fight to save and preserve this heritage building through restoration and adaptive reuse.

cate inglis : urban landscapes

contemporary urban landscapes by award-winning Scottish artist


a blog by Oliver Peters

Recordings of nature's Blog

about audio recordings of nature

%d bloggers like this: