I gave up an arts scholarship in college because I wanted to learn how to paint portraits like the masters of the genre, inspired by my mother's success as a painter. My professors all tilted towards the abstract and modernist, so the professors and I parted ways. Oils, conte crayon, charcoal, pencil or pen and ink—or digitally in Photoshop, if you're in the market for a portrait, take a look at these samples.
Dennis McMillan - watercolor
Dennis was a printmaker, bigger than life. I met him when I was hired to help demolish a group of offices he was converting to a print studio. He would fix his students with this look and they would fall in line.
Marc Chagall - pencil on kraft paper
The source for this drawing was a photo that lacked dimension, depth, and personality. The life-affirming spirit of Chagall shines through in this study.
Shoe Art Salesman - oil
When I worked for Florsheim Shoe Company, I met a lot of art- and photo-studio sales reps. This guy was really "old school" in manner and dress and volunteered to sit for me.
Kurt Vonnegut - pencil on paper
I took a photo of him when he came to speak at Steppenwolf. He appeared extremely ill-at-ease sitting still. And on top of his game when speaking. Thin in his younger years, he had filled out by the time I saw him.
Black Man - charcoal
I snapped a quick photo of this man, seated to my right, as we waited to get our drivers licenses renewed. He looked like a man who had seen everything, and was burdened by his experience—but there was a dignity about him I wanted to preserve.
Jerzy Kosinski - Conte Crayon
His gaze was hypnotic, his prose dynamic and cryptic, fearless and haunting. He was considered by certain critics one of the greatest authors of the twentieth century, and by others as a fraud. What was undeniable, however, was that once you saw that face, you could not look away.
Olga Korbut - Conte Crayon
Olga Korbut was Olympic Gold Medalist in gymnastics when I did this sketch, based on a photograph of her speaking to a reporter. Dubbed 'the pixie" by an adoring fan base and press, I felt she had an incredible power, an inner strength that deserved to be represented. Intensifying her eyes and mouth, I believe, helped to achieve that image.
Unknown Ancestor - oil
An old family album of tintypes served as inspiration for a series I created, with an eye towards offering clients the chance to do the same: take a throw-away old photo and transform it into an "official" portrait of a relative from long ago.
Female Model - Photoshop Original
This portrait was created from scratch in Photoshop, using techniques that would generate a surface quality similar to an oil painting. It took a dozen layers, and considerable experimentation with translucent layers over opaque bases, to achieve the luminosity that is the mark of a classic portrait.
Debra - Charcoal on Paper
I never felt comfortable asking my wife to pose for me. The solution was to capture her when she was resting. I think that the side view (profile) is key to the feeling the viewer gets that Debra is truly at ease, resting peacefully. I wanted the viewer to feel completely at ease looking at her.
Dorothy Hammill - Pencil, Pen & Ink on Paper
"America's Sweetheart" brought a combination of elegance and power to her skating. People forget that she was articulate, and that there were brains alongside the beauty. I wanted to emphasize that. Believe it or not, I did not exaggerate the size of those glasses!