New Old Portrait Drawing

New Old Portrait Drawing

I was doing a little cleaning when I discovered a CD that had a file saved on it I thought was lost. It was the image of this drawing here, a commission I did back in 2010. If I remember correctly, this was the drawing I did for a gentleman at my church–the commission that helped bring in the rent money when I was a month behind. I’m glad I found this portrait again–it’s one of my favorites!

He wanted to commemorate his parents wedding anniversary–I think it was their 70th, but again, this was 5 years ago, so I’m not sure.

This is an 11 x 14 pencil on paper drawing, and it took over 20 hours to complete. I got a really great scan of this drawing that captured the detail and texture of the graphite in the paper. First is the entire drawing and then below that are some close-ups…thanks for looking!

Custom Pencil Portrait by pencil portrait artist Matt Philleo

Custom Pencil Portrait by pencil portrait artist Matt Philleo

In the detail below, we see them at the time of their wedding, along with an image of their church.

Custom pencil portrait drawing by artist Matt Philleo, detail

Custom pencil portrait drawing by artist Matt Philleo, detail

Custom Pencil Portrait drawing by artist Matt Philleo, detail

Custom Pencil Portrait drawing by artist Matt Philleo, detail

Below, of course, is the picture of this couple when they are well advanced in years. In the lower right is an image of the family farm.

Custom Pencil Portrait drawing by artist Matt Philleo, detail

Custom Pencil Portrait drawing by artist Matt Philleo, detail

And here’s the detail of that.

Custom Pencil Portrait drawing by artist Matt Philleo, detail

Custom Pencil Portrait drawing by artist Matt Philleo, detail

I love doing custom commissioned portraits like this, where I can incorporate elements that are near and dear to the people being portrayed. When they receive this as a gift, it is extra special to them, to not only have a portrait of the two of them, but to proudly display the longevity of their marriage and interweave them into the surroundings of their lives.

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Goodbye, Wonderful Old Woman

Goodbye, Wonderful Old Woman

Today, I said goodbye to a familiar face: a drawing I’ve had in my collection for 22 years. It is one of my favorites, but it was time to let it go.  A customer who met me at the Falling Leaves Art Studio Tour this year bought a print of this drawing, and later through email, said she loves the image and would like to buy the original. 
This is a drawing I did back in 1993, when 15, so it is very special to me. I discovered that black colored pencil could achieve a really rich black, almost like ink. In addition, although nearly impossible to erase, it doesn’t smudge like normal graphite pencils. When I showed it to my art teacher, she loved it, and later on referred to it as the drawing of “that wonderful old woman” The name stuck.
Woman, immigrant Great Depression

“Wonderful Old Woman, “ 9 x 12, Colored Pencil on Paper, by Matt Philleo

My source photo was of an elderly woman, an immigrant from the depression era. I chose not draw a background behind her, leaving the white of the paper to draw even more attention to her face.
You can imagine the stories she’d tell if you waited a while to listen. Her careworn face, etched with deep wrinkles, is almost like a roadmap that guides you in learning more about the difficult journeys of her life. And yet, behind that melancholy stare there is a glimmer of hope, a firm resolve to not give up and to make it through.
I met today with the customer to hand this drawing over to her. And I’m glad.  The joy of this drawing blessing somebody else makes it easy for me to let it go, and I’m glad she will be proudly displaying it in her home. 
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Artist Statement

Artist Statement

I create art to comfort and encourage. In our present era, with increasing crime, scandals, and a wall of isolation erected by too much dependence on technology, the need for encouragement is greater than ever. I don’t look at the world with myopic, rose-colored glasses, pretending everything is perfect.

I go through trials, difficulties, and personal struggles and so do you.

During these times of despair, I reach out to God for help like the ancient Psalmists did, and eventually light arises in the darkness. His grace overcomes my weakness. After experiencing the breakthrough, I have a burning desire to share this joy with others so they can be encouraged too. For me, art is the best way to do this.

Ever since I was a child, I have loved to draw and paint people. I especially love to capture emotion through facial expressions and body gestures. Occasionally, I paint landscapes, but I am primarily a figurative painter.

In my paintings, the people interact with God and with each other in relationships where truth, love, compassion, trust, hope, forgiveness, perseverance, and dignity are practiced. In highlighting these virtues, and the often the struggle to obtain them, I hope to create a dialogue with the viewer, to instill a desire for something greater, and to demonstrate God’s loving care in times of sorrow and need.

My medium of choice, since being introduced to it in high school art classes, is acrylic paint. I appreciate its quick drying time and low toxicity. Using a centuries-old glazing technique, I mix the paint with a clear acrylic medium and apply layer upon layer translucently, which allows the white surface of the canvas to reflect through. The result is a colorful, vibrant surface.

For example, in one my portraits, for a gentleman’s suit, I applied burnt umber brown, ultramarine blue, and alizarin crimson methodically, in a series of fifteen to twenty layers, to build up the final color of black. This uniquely-composed black has much more richness and depth than using black straight out of the tube.

When doing narrative or concept-based artwork, my inspiration comes from various sources:

Sometimes it can come from a passage of Scripture during my daily reading.

Sometimes it can come from a sermon by the pastor.

But just as often I am inspired by my relationships with others, especially my children. They teach me so much about the way God sees me and how having a simple trust in Him brings delight to His heart.

Once an idea for a painting comes to mind, I quickly record in it my journal. Next, I begin to sketch it and prepare a photo session so that I have realistic references to draw from. Typically, friends, family members are my models and, like a play director, I ask them to “act out” in a still version the various scenes I will depict later on canvas. The resulting photos then become the basis for my painting.

Finally, after completing a well-defined sketch, I begin the actual painting process. Before and during a studio session, I pray, asking God to help me capture the beauty of the people I’m painting and convey an idea that will encourage the viewers, hopefully drawing them closer to Himself. I paint in a detailed, representational style so that my artwork can be easily understood by a viewer of any background or education level.

I enjoy the process of painting, but I believe the end result of a great work of art is more important than enjoying the process. At certain points during painting, it is not fun; it is just plain hard work.

Just as in the rest of life, when you don’t give up and see a difficult project through to completion, there is the satisfaction of a job well done. And you have something to show for your efforts and struggle, something that you can offer to bring encouragement to others.

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