"Why Invest in a Portrait?"
In today’s world of readily available and affordable photography, people often ask, “why would I want to spend so much to have my portrait painted?”
For several generations, Southerners have known what West Coasters are just discovering: that a painted portrait is a treasured possession that family members love to inherit, and treasure forever. A painted portrait almost has a life of its own.
A painted portrait is not just a collection of data burned onto some film, it is an interpretation of one’s very being, filtered through the eyes and skills of an artist who takes the time to study and deeply observe his subject.
A painted portrait affirms the precious value that the sitter has in this world. It says, “You are of incredible worth, you mattered, you made a difference in this world just by being.” It reminds one of their eternalness, as humans bear the unmistakable image of their Creator.
A painted portrait affirms the sitter as it says to all who view it, “This person I cherished”. It confirms the benefactor’s desire to never let the sitter’s influence be erased from the tide of his personal history.
A painted portrait only increases in its value. It doesn’t rust away and depreciate like so many material objects, because not only does it capture a loved one for a moment in time, but it cheats Time’s ability to steal away our memories. And we are left with an image which seems to change daily, almost having a living, breathing quality as it lives in the room in which it is hung, changing by the moment as the light plays across the artist’s brushstrokes at different times of the day. We are intrigued by what the artist saw as he studied his subject and sought to interpret his observations: did the artist reveal something the sitter thought to be carefully hidden? Did he bring to light a strength of character of which the sitter was too modest to boast? Did he in some way capture a bit of his sitter’s soul on canvas?
To live with art is to be changed. It is unpredictable, often surprising, and it stirs our imaginations, lifting them above the realm of ordinary interpretation.
A painted portrait is a small price to pay for a place in history.