I am working on a series of large oil paintings and my plan is to have between 8-10 paintings when I am done of individual portraits of American teens. These portraits will not be like a commissioned portrait in that a commissioned portrait is usually a portrait that shows the individual in their best light. The client has a specific way in which they want the subject presented and although I am the creator, the artwork is a collaboration between my myself and the client.
These teen portraits, on the other hand, will be about my vision and my connection with the other person as I see them. This means showing their strengths as well as their weaknesses. Like an orange, I want to peel away the rind and get to the pulp. I want to show their inner character as well as what they look like on the outside. I want to tell a story. How do they present themselves to the world? What emotions lie beneath the surface? What are their influences and background? Are they confident, shy, nervous, athletic, pompous, gifted? These are just some of the characteristics and questions I hope to get answered as I get to know my subjects. Obviously no one portrait can present all aspects of a complex individual, but by focusing on something that stands out to me about each teen, I hope to present a diverse and interesting snapshot of American teens today.
You may ask why teens? The idea came to me through my own experiences with my two teenage daughters. I find it interesting and amazing how in the span of just a few years I can really see the young adults they are becoming. They each have very different styles of dress, interests, personality characteristics and goals. They are trying to figure out who they are, differentiate themselves from others or sometimes are just trying to fit in. Their influences come from many areas including family, school, religious beliefs, and of course peers, media and popular culture. By observing my own daughters and seeing how genetics as well as outside influences have affected who they are, the idea of exploring and creating a collection of diverse teen portraits intrigued me.
So now the search and process begins to find my subjects and create this collection of paintings. Part of this blog will be devoted to capturing and sharing this journey with you, my reader. I hope you find it interesting and beneficial. I would love to hear your feedback along the way.