Historical Family Portrait, a recent commission
I had the absolute pleasure of reproducing this family portrait, an ancient black and white photo, in oil on canvas! This one was especially a challenge since the old photo I had for a reference was very faded. It was printed on a postcard! Missing was an exact date and I had to imagine who took the photo, what the circumstances were, and how it ended up printed on this now aged and stained postcard stock.
I invented some of the detail after researching other antique photos from around the same time period, but didn’t want to add too much detail and alter the images and personality of the people in the photo. I also added some color, but sparingly, as I wanted to reproduce the feeling of this old faded photograph.
Carefully studying the form and gesture of each person, I worked to capture them as accurately as I could, and to represent the beauty and dignity each person displayed. The photo looks as if it was a sunny day as their faces are slightly shadowed, probably on a Sunday before or after church, everyone dressed in their best. I loved how the younger boys look as if they were growing out of their suit jackets, while the oldest boy was proudly growing into his. I couldn’t tell what the woman on the far left was holding; I imagined that she may have picked some wildflowers on her way.
I wanted to show the weathered texture of the building they’re standing in front of, not sure if it was a house or a barn. I imagined how warm the earth felt beneath their bare feet and how proud and fancy the young girls felt with crisp white bows in their hair.
As I worked, and carefully studied the photograph for weeks, I fell in love with each one, but especially the matriarch, the woman seated in the center with the rest of the family lovingly arranged around her. Her beauty inspired me to do a separate study of her. She’s amazing!
Here are some of the wonderful photos that inspired me when I researched.