In March 2005, I was interviewed by Talia Sanhewe for the South African radio program, Otherwise.
Her first question completely threw me off base: "In this day of multimedia technology when digital and video cameras are common place, why would anyone want an oil or watercolour portrait?"
I regretted not being able to address the question properly at the time, because it was a good one.
A good photograph is one thing, a good painting is another. Although I work very quickly, I spend a good few hours interacting with my subject. During that time, the initial self consciousness of the sitter relaxes. I recede to the background as the child becomes reabsorbed in his or her world and play, whether it be listening to a story, playing with toys or watching a video.
With older subjects too, as time goes by, the face relaxes, the expression softens. An interaction develops between the artist and the sitter- a dialogue on a subliminal level. That is the moment when I start painting because the reflective expression of the subject is timeless: the painting will later imbue a room with the subject's quiet presence. A photograph is not often required to have the staying power of a painting.
Essentially, a good portrait is more than a good physical likeness of the sitter; a good protrait embodies something of his or her soul.
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