Even as a young boy I found immense reward in accurately portraying a person with just pencil and paper. My grandfather was a great artist and professional illustrator and overall creative and determined person. Additionally, I was exposed to many of the works of John Singer Sargent and frequently (and not so subtly) reminded by my grandmother of our ancestral ties to his uncle, Winthrop Sargent.
However, I developed a more intense emotional response to music and chose to devote my time and studies to the trumpet, eventually attending Furman University and Yale School of Music. It was after graduate school, living in Manhattan and visiting often the many museums and galleries, when I aroused an old urge. Upon returning to my hometown Greenville, SC, I tried for the first time my hand at painting, producing unfortunate ghastly pieces inspired by the Picassos and Matisses I had admired. My technique gradually improved and my style gradually aligned with what had given me such pleasure and pride as a young boy.
The process now is a welcome escape and a means to focus the lens when it is unfocused. The challenge of creating likeness is a balance of problem-solving and style. Sometimes the process is pure chaos and torture until the end, other times it is free and effortless. I draw inspiration from musicians and composers and between commissions use them as practice so they can adorn my walls.
Playing music and portraiture is the same. It is constant comparison and adjustment, both to an objective and an ideal. Like music, portraiture is a medium of replication and expression — an effort to reproduce what already exists in a way that inspires that which does not.