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Capturing Nora

A successful portrait should not only look like the person being painted; it should also feel like that person. If my artwork is successful, it will radiate the same energy as its subject, but without the complicating chatter of everyday life. My goal is to create a presence.

The portrait shown here was particularly fun to paint. The mother of the child had seen my work and hoped I could capture the essence of her daughter Nora. She provided several photos, each showing a different side of this engaging little person, and almost as soon as I had finished my sketch on the canvas I could feel Nora’s presence. I loved painting her piquant face and attitude.

I spend most of my days painting people who, like Nora, I have never met. Occasionally I still worry that I am not “getting” them. Each time, it comes down to trust—in my hand, in my eyes. I keep a little photo of the painting of Nora next to my palette to remind me that I have done it before. Why should this time be any different? —Jessica Gath, J97

To learn more about the artist and her work, visit www.jessicagath.com.

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