I came to portraiture and figure drawing so naturally, that for many years I downplayed its artistic significance. I had been doing portrait commissions for many years in graphite, charcoal, and pastel, and thought I needed to challenge myself more. When I was in my thirties, I went back to university to study art in the form of a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. I strove to put portraiture behind me, and work towards more abstract and conceptual art making, taking on many varied subjects and many different stylistic techniques.
In my final year of study, Canadian artist Sheila Butler visited the Fine Arts Faculty of Grenfell Campus, MUN, where I was attending. During our critique, she viewed my portfolio of paintings and drawings of wide-ranging subjects, media, and styles, including a number of portrait and figure pieces. She informed me that portrait and figure painting was an art form that many artists struggled with, and she observed that I demonstrated a natural ability in this area. She challenged me to stop fighting against myself and embrace my true calling for this most honourable and time-tested genre.
I will always be exceedingly grateful to Sheila Butler for that validation. With her words, I gave myself permission to embrace what comes naturally to me with more passion than anything else I have tried. To capture the spirit and light of another human being is nothing short of magical. It took this epiphany for me to celebrate and honour this natural ability. I do so now with fulfilment and gratitude every time I pick up a pencil or a brush, gaze into the eyes of my subject, strive to capture their essence, and reveal their soul.