Sunday, May 31, 2015

Unveiling today: New Men's Oil Portrait

It is always a pleasure to be a part of special occasion gifts and planning. Here is one of my latest portraits.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Upcoming Birthday Unveiling

I'm very pleased to be delivering a new painting this week for a 90 year old gentleman's birthday. It is always an honor to be asked to paint a commission and to mark the date of a 90 year old is very special. Photos to come after the piece is unveiled!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

An Interview with. . .Sonia Hale

At what point in your life did you realize you were an Artist?

I was born an artist and knew from the age of five that that was a part of my identity. In early grade school I realized I was living in and viewing the world with a visual perceptiveness unlike most of my classmates and friends.

In addition, when I got a 100% on a spatial relations test in school, my parents knew I had an inherent 3D comprehension, which most likely comes from my maternal grandfather, who was a gifted tool and die maker in the Bridgeport, CT area. Family folklore is that he was asked to help with one of Howard Hughes’ planes in California and in New York with the development of the atomic bomb, called The Manhattan Project (the later of which he declined).

Sonia, what was it that led you to painting to be your creative medium?

I was enthralled by oil paints from the time I found a starter set abandoned up in my attic when I was in late grade school. I yearned to be able to paint far ahead of my years and my school art class's abilities to teach.

A family friend, who was an artist, advised that I take drawing classes prior to painting, so that my painting would have correct structure. That was incredible advice for that period of time in art in the 70's when realistic art was not in vogue. Creative expression was favored over learning the fundamentals of drawing and painting, as a later teacher would call it, "The Language of Art." I was enrolled in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts' art class program and was able to view master works and to draw and paint in the galleries. The art world was less cautious then, prior to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum thefts. I glimpsed the behind-the-scenes of the museum on my way to art class: I walked through long hallways with crated paintings and other art objects casually stored along the way. Art class was always the place where I felt most at home and with kindred spirits, though I did very well academically.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a Portrait Artist?

When I saw the John Singer Sargent painting, The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The painting is very large and made an equally large impression on me. I saw how beautifully he captured each daughter in such a painterly way. His flowing brushstrokes spoke to me. I devoted myself to a decade of study and mentoring to learn, as a third-generation student of John Singer Sargent. I was pleased to have learned how to draw in my many classes at Harvard University's Carpenter Center, as well as an undergraduate at Colby College (I had been accepted to Tufts University’s engineering program, but ultimately chose to attend Colby.), and was ready to begin the process of painting the face—the most challenging subject there is!

What compels you to get out of bed in the morning?

I am driven to discover the visual truth in what I see. Painting is about showing how you see the world—I am moved every day by the beauty around me and there are many paintings I see, but do not paint, as there are not the hours in the day. My training, which comes from John Singer Sargent, is that one does not just paint portraits, or they will never become a fully developed artist, so I paint still lives and landscapes as well, and enjoy this very much as well. If I can share the beauty that I see with others who do not have the opportunity to study it as I do, and they are equally moved, then I have done my day's work.

What are you looking to capture in your portraits?

My goal in my portraits is to bring forth the best day of the person I am painting. I am capturing them at their best moment. When clients, portrait subjects and parents are moved, often to tears, I know I have done my job at its peak and that makes my efforts so worthwhile.

Do you have any special anecdotes you'd like to share?

Before I had really received much training, I was told my style was painterly (this is correct). I was very surprised when I was told I painted like Matisse in one of my first art classes at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts at the age of about twelve. Back then class was not so much about teaching, as letting students draw and paint during class with very little input. So I was described as painting like Matisse, which was meant as a compliment and is very nice, but there was so much I wanted to learn about portraying form. I still have that painting of a green bottle with a large white highlight on it. I would go on to learn to draw and paint in a more realistic manner, challenging myself to learn from the top artists in the country, taking workshops and classes nationwide.

I revel in the range of days and experiences I have, as well as the wonderful artists I have had the opportunity to meet and paint with. It is truly a privilege to be an artist. I have spent days meeting wonderful people of all ages to paint their portraits. I have painted on the banks of the Seine. Some more amusing times have been rummaging through closets of my portrait subjects, to help select clothing which will translate well to a painted portrait. I feel very fortunate to share the journey of others' lives, in paint.

What recommendations do you have for those who will be painted? How can a client be ready for their portrait session and achieve the most out of your abilities?

The things that clients can do are to choose 3-5 outfits and to be themselves. They will have input in the process, so they can relax and we will find our way together. Their best self will be depicted in the painting. They can trust I was bring forth the best in them.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Stepping Outside the Box: An Interview with Wedding and Portrait Photographer, Elizabeth Dondis, of New Orleans!

It is always a pleasure to meet fellow creatives around the country. This has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my work. Wedding and Portrait Photographer, Elizabeth Dondis, of New Orleans recently supplied an image for a painting that I worked on earlier this year and took a moment to share her creative journey with me. You can find her work here: (

Elizabeth, what was it that made you choose Photography to be your medium for capturing your vision?
I picked up a book by the photographer Peter Beard. I was fascinated by his obsessive journaling and how he used photographs to expand and deepen the story beyond just words alone.  I could not ignore the rawness, honesty and purity of his work.  I saw the power with which photographs can communicate.  The beauty of his subjects combined with the texture of his writing and how he used every inch of the page to document his story inspired me to become a photographer.  Little did I know it would inspire me to be a New Orleans wedding & portrait photographer.  

When did you first start to be attracted to photography?

I have always liked photographs and been fascinated by the way they represent just one moment while at the same time they are part of a bigger story.  From a very young age I have enjoyed spending time with my family laughing and talking about the memories we shared, many of which we remember because of the photographs we have.   Most people don’t realize that family photos are where there memories come from.  I love being able to being able to create memories like those for someone every time I take pictures.

When did you get your first camera?
When I was in the 7th grade my parents bought me a Kodak Instamatic X-15.  I was so excited.  It used Kodak 126 cartridge film and had “Magicube technology” that rotated through four bulbs without the need for batteries. That’s what the X- meant.  I learned quickly that the Magicube could also be the very hot Magicube if you touched it too soon.  I shot a lot of pictures with that little plastic box.  It was a great first camera for me.  

What compels you to get out of bed in the morning?
Each day is an opportunity for creativity, learning and connecting.  I wake up finding my precious, eight-pound dog Roux, cuddled next to me.  That, and my French Market Chicory coffee inspire me to take pictures every day.  I rarely miss one.  I like watching as each day evolves.  Taking pictures is inseparable from that for me.

What are you looking to capture with your camera?
I think of the camera as a tool that has taught me to visually break things down where I can see beyond the obvious.   I am looking to capture the essence of my subject matter and the subtle nuances of moments in time.  Each special moment is here just once so unless it is captured, it is gone.  I’m looking to capture those special moments that would have otherwise gotten away.  That way, they can become a life-long part of someone’s memories.

What are some of your most prized photographs, where you felt you’d worked at your highest level?
My most prized photographs would be those where I was able to use light and composition to create a deep connection to the subject matter.  My list of favorites only seems to grow over time as it is hard to retire old ones – I guess that’s why they are my favorites!  Of course I am happy to share a few images.

Do you have any special anecdotes you'd like to share?
Because I am a wedding photographer I see families interact, and sometimes there can be issues, especially if there are ex-spouses and children involved.  Such situations can make it more difficult to shoot the event as people wear their emotions, and my job is to capture their joy.  

Recently, however, I had a situation that warmed my heart.  I did a wedding of two beautiful people who are in that time of life when work is mostly over, retirement is comfortably secured and love brightens every day.  Despite all that, I was concerned - there were ex-spouses, children of a deceased spouse, other children and grandchildren.  It was a situation ripe for problems.  I’d seen it before.

What I experienced was a pleasant surprise.  From day one, the couple-to-be were warm and gracious people.  They spoke well of each other’s families and friends, as if to do anything else wasn’t even a possibility.  When it came time to shoot the rehearsal dinner – an intimate gathering of family and good, old friends – I sensed that the entire group had the same joyous attitude about this marriage.  The wedding itself sealed the deal – it was real – and I will forever remember how warm and wonderful that felt.  I will also remember how easy that made it to shoot, as everyone was happy and engaged.  

In the end, my clients were ecstatic with their images and I felt good about the work I did.  I can’t ask for anything more than that.

What recommendations do you have for those who will be photographed? How can a bride and groom most be ready for the photography for her day and achieve the most out of your abilities?
I tell my clients to be comfortable – they are not there for me.   I’m there to capture their coming together on a very special day.  Before the event, I encourage them to wear whatever is comfortable and looks good sitting, standing or moving around.  Up front I ask them what they like and don’t like so that I understand how best to deliver images that will move them.  Once the big event starts I tell them to forget I’m there and have fun – I know they’re not going to relax!

How does your environment factor into your photography?
I am so fortunate to be a New Orleans wedding photographer.  The quality of New Orleans light, uniqueness of its architecture and overall eclectic nature is what makes this city such a great place to have a wedding.  The opportunity to use this city as my larger studio, indoors and out, enables me to create images that connect people, places and emotions.  This is at the heart of what I do for my clients.  

I am also fortunate to be a New Orleans wedding photographer because I love the great food, music and the diversity of people here.  They add color, contrast and exposure to an already rich tapestry woven from the fabric of life in this city and the Delta.  It is like no other place in the world.