During my youth, I would look at the art in my books and, the same as so many other children around me that I knew, I yearned to be able to draw with the same skills as the artists in those books. From the tender age two to my starting college years, I was obsessed with practicing – I drew everyone I knew and everything I saw onto paper. Art was more than a paper image: I concluded that if I could accurately portray someone in a fixed medium, then I would have a bit of that someone with me; and in the act of portrayal, would instill a stronger remembrance of that someone within the treasury of my heart. In my mind, this hand-made image would have more dimension than a photo — it would convey personality and sentimental constitution and associations. For me, there was no other way to truly reveal and express the person or pet I so loved.
When I was younger, I was fascinated by hand techniques of diverse variety. As an adult, however, I am increasingly more interested in learning about the lives of great artists, historical as well as modern. Sometimes I only have history books as reference when I attempt to comprehend what inspired an artist or led that into the arts.
Nicholas Hillyarde and Isaac Oliver, both contemporaries in the 16th Century, were especially skilled artists of realistic, miniature watercolor portraits. Hillyarde was appointed limner to Queen Elizabeth and King James, and Oliver was a student to Hillyarde. These two artists were quite talented, with very similar skills while they worked together. Later centuries of artists did not reach the same caliber of capacity in creating miniature paintings and limning fell into a stagnant art until modern times, wherein limning is receiving a budding revival.
Leonardo DaVinci- architect, engineer, and early anatomist as well as painter- is also very inspiring. Although most of his career was not as a portrait painter (Leonardo designed weapons and other devices for Italian Renaissance kings, and many of the designs for these have been preserved in samples of his sketchbooks), he was one of the earlier painters to use oil painting as a medium. Because gesso was not in vogue in those days, DaVinci painted on various experimental surfactants. Sadly, due to complex personal reasons, DaVinci’s “Mona Lisa” (a portrait now known the world over) was never finished, even though he spent years perfecting her before his death.
Today, I seek to have a better understanding of the dynamics of art through the ages on the human psyche. I expect that such a challenge will only continue to enrich the depths of my perspectives and increase my own creative enthusiasms to artistically convey what I see.
Charity Goodwin, artist