Why Commission a Fine Art Portrait When There’s Such Amazing Photography
People have been foretelling the demise of traditional painted portraiture for many decades, even more so in the past few years with the rise of cellphone photography. How then, does fine art portraiture persist and flourish still?
Humans have been capturing their likenesses for nearly as long as there have been humans, and we’re not likely to ever stop. The method, though, has changed dramatically. We’re no longer scratching rudimentary images of ourselves and our cultures into cave walls. Instead, our cellphones let us capture and hold our entire histories in the palms of our hands.
New technology has a beautiful but potentially destructive way of working itself into our daily lives. When was the last time you took a horse and buggy to the general store? At some point in your life, surely, you’ve taken a selfie. And yet somehow, painted portraiture has avoided going the way of the buggy whip, but how?
A Blend of Traditional and Modern
Portraiture is surprisingly adaptable for such a longstanding artform.
Economics has had a surprising effect on portraiture. While the basics of commissioning a painting have remained relatively unchanged for hundreds of years, the types of portraits that clients desire have changed. Before the 2008 recession, three-quarter and full-length portraits were much more popular sizes than head and shoulder paintings. However, the demand for head and shoulder portraits rose as wages fell.
Modern homeowners now favor open-concept architecture. With less wall space to fill, clients are still seeking more head and shoulder portraits than ever before. Gallery walls have become popular as well, and smaller portraits are a perfect complement to this chic design style.
Traditional portrait artists are remarkably adept at responding to trends. Portraits, Inc. pairs clients with artists who work in a variety of mediums. Oil portraits are extremely popular, but drawings offer clients a different way to capture their loved ones. Artists who work with charcoal and conté crayons can capture great likenesses of the subjects in a light, fresh way. If you and the artist choose to leave the edges and background unfinished, you can get a more contemporary, raw feel to the portrait.
Beverly McNeil, the owner of Portraits, Inc., describes the company’s more contemporary offerings as, “not your grandmother’s portrait.” A family portrait in a beautiful, natural setting becomes a conversation piece. When you back up the perspective and ask an artist to spend hours with a family and with the work, the finished painting tells a story in an interesting way that will engage viewers for decades.
Traditional Portraiture Captures What Photos Cannot
On their faces, photography and painted portraits seem very similar. They both capture the likeness of a subject, but paintings are much more expensive and time consuming to commission. So, why should you choose a portrait?
A primary difference between the two is that a traditional painted portrait is timeless. It captures a special chapter in the subject’s life rather than just a moment. There are times when a moment is exactly what we want to save and cherish, but you need more than a quick snapshot to capture the depth of a person’s true self.
Paintings have much more permanence than a photo, and they say much more about their subject. When an artist spends hours with a client and with the work, they can’t help but see the truth of a person. If a person is pensive or kind, the artist can capture and showcase that attribute in a way that a quick photograph simply cannot.
Portraits speak volumes about a person, his or her accomplishments, and who he or she truly is. Artists don’t just capture a fleeting smile; they tell a story about the subject.
Portraiture is a Cherished Family Tradition
To truly appreciate the magic that a painting captures, sometimes you just have to experience it. Many clients choose to commission a portrait because it’s a family tradition and they appreciate how special a painting can be.
Most often, people commission portraits on behalf of someone else. Parents seek to preserve a chapter of their child’s life, husbands want to capture their wives, or wives want to honor their husbands. Institutions often use portraits to pay homage to important leaders or donors.
If you want to commemorate a milestone in someone’s life or career, a portrait is an excellent choice. Paintings are larger and grander than most photos, so they make a superb showpiece in a home or an institution.
Fine Art Portraiture is Timeless
The true value of a painted portrait is that it can be traditional or trendy, yet it remains timeless. Capturing a moment in time with a photograph will always be valuable, but if you seek to capture something deeper, something lasting, choose a traditional painted portrait.
The demand for paintings hasn’t faded, and it’s not likely to. Despite its deep-rooted traditions, fine art portraiture is still fresh and relevant. There’s magic in portraiture that will continue to captivate viewers for as long as humans are capturing their likenesses.