Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pete - Commissioned Oil Portrait

Recently I finished a commissioned oil portrait.  The man in the portrait is Pete, and his daughter commissioned the painting.  From what I understand, Pete is an amazing father, so of course one of his daughters thought it was appropriate to have an oil painting of him.  I really enjoyed working on this.  He has a lot of character in his face that was both a challenge, and a pleasure to capture.  When doing a commission, I give the client the option of: do I represent the person as is, or do you want me to rewind time? (i.e. wrinkles or no wrinkles or subtle wrinkles)  I prefer the former, largely because I enjoy painting realistically and painting wrinkles.  One of my earlier influences was (and still is) Chuck Close.  That man really knows how to capture a person, "flaws" and everything.  To me, that is truly beautiful.

Before I show you my recent portrait, let's travel back in time a bit.  I was a sophomore in high school and for art class we were to create a large charcoal portrait from a photograph.  I have always drawn people.  I fell in love with a photograph of B.B. King but doubted my abilities to draw him.  My art teacher was more confident in my abilities than I was, so she encouraged me to try.  This is what I drew:

"B.B. King" chalk and charcoal, 2000.  art by Heather Clements

I LOVED drawing this and was quite happy with the results.  This drawing not only got me minor fame among my high school (I was 'that girl who drew that portrait') but it was the first real artwork I sold.  Who bought it?  The very teacher who encouraged me to draw it.

From then on I have always loved drawing wrinkles, blemishes, hairs, and all the other details that make a person real and human.

So I was happy when the decision was for me to paint a father - wrinkles and all.

So, meet Pete:

"Pete" commissioned portrait . oil painting . 11"x14" . art by Heather Clements


Progress in the studio

Want to commission a portrait? Contact me.


  1. Heather,
    As the art teacher who encouraged you to draw that BB King portrait and the very same one who bought the piece, I have to tell you that I am so proud of you and all that you have accomplished. I have been teaching that black and white portrait project now for 12 years....(hard to believe I've been teaching that long sometimes, especially when that first year I taught you feels like yesterday) and I must say that I think of you every year. I bring that portrait into school to show my students and every year they all say the same thing...whoa...I can't do that! And I tell them that's exactly what you said. : )

    I checked out your blog, I also googled you and found your website. Beautiful, absolutely beautiful work Heather! I always felt like I played such a minor role in your life, education, etc since I only taught you for one year, but it made my day...shoot maybe it made my year to read the email you sent me and what you wrote above on your blog. I was and am so touched. (I definitely cried)

    Teaching is not always the most rewarding job, and your email IS THE REASON I TEACH! : )

    1. Miss Rogish... Can I call you Tanya now? :o)

      I'm so glad you still teach that project! I remember a lot of your students did an amazing job that they didn't realize they could do. I teach some art classes now, too. I teach a kids art class and a figure drawing class every week. I can only hope that I could be as influential as you were/are.

      I know I said it in my email to you, but I'll say it again so that everyone can see... Thank you so much for everything you taught me, mostly to believe in myself as an artist.


  2. Yes you can definitely call me Tanya now! ; )
    I'm glad to hear that you are teaching art as well, it's definitely a calling so I'm sure you are making an impact. I wish I could give you a hug, but sending a virtual hug your way regardless. Seriously, some kids I forget and I see them on the street and they say hi to me and I pretend to know them, but other students are burned into my memory. You were one of my firsts and I am sure I'll still remember you in 20 more years when I retire. I am so glad you still have a photo of that drawing because one of the things I learned from that lesson was to buy better/more archival black paper for my students. I had the drawing framed the same year I taught you (2000-2001) but over the years it's faded a bit from the sun. I no longer have it hanging in my house because I want to preserve it as best I can. I have it in a dark space facing the wall so that it doesn't get any more damaged, because I do in fact bring it to school each and every year and I hope to keep bringing it while I continue to teach. The detail is still there, but the paper isn't quite as dark as it once was. I'm not even sure what kind of paper it was, I hope to God I didn't use construction paper but you know I was 22 and just trying to keep my head above water being pulled between two schools. So Heather, do you still have family in Virginia? If so I would love to see you next time you are in the area!! HA, if you come while school is in session, you should come to my school and speak to my current students about being an artist, commission work, etc.

    I kept meaning to write that email at work today, but there's always a sketchbook to grade or something else to distract me. By the time I got home and started writing on your blog, I realized this is practically an email...ha ha sorry for the lack of formality and I hope we can stay in touch.

    1. Tanya,

      Do you have UV protective glass in the frame? If not, you can go to any framer and have the glass replaced and that should stop any further fading from the sun.

      My parents are still in Virginia, but since they are taking me to Europe this year (woo!) I'm not sure when I'll be going to VA next. If I'm ever in the Richmond area, though, I will be sure to let you know. It would be awesome to get together and play a LOT of catch-up. And I would love to talk to your students, as well, it's always fun being the guest artist.

      Well, I'm so glad I found you and that you are still teaching. Keep on inspiring!



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