#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).

About Chris Erskine

Visual Artist and independent film-maker. Try to post summaries of my artistic activities once per month. View all posts by Chris Erskine

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