Style Court

Eight Years of Textiles, History, Art, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes

3.25.2009

Saving Face IV

Lee Kleinhelter remembers sitting in a chair for hours when she was around seven-years-old while an artist painted her portrait. As a grown-up, she can appreciate traditional oil portraits, but they don't really suit her modern style.

Lee is all about clean lines. Even her wedding was crisp, tailored, and super-chic.

She says, "Classic oil portraits are elegant and nice to grow up with, but just too serious and reminiscent of my grandparent's house -- for my taste. Also, I enjoy experimenting and not being committed to a piece forever."

However, Lee adds that one day she might consider some sort of contemporary portraits of her own children -- something with an edge. She finds that a truly outstanding portrait can be rare because often the real personality of the sitter doesn't come through. In the meantime, her dad is threatening to bequeath to her his very large, very stately portrait done with his horse when he was a teen.

Angie Hranowsky also has a modernist bent. She says, "There was not a portrait of me in our house when I was growing up, but it was just me and my mom and our house was cool, but not formal. I don't know that I would want one of myself now. Certainly if an artist friend did one for me as a gift I would love it and cherish it, but I can't see myself commissioning one."

Angie adds, "I opted for Carter Kustera silhouettes of my own children instead of formal portraits. That said, I love to buy old or vintage portraits of other people. I especially love mid-twentieth-century portraits and how they evoke that place in time through the color palette, hair style, jewelry, and clothes as well as the painting style."

Like Social Primer, Ellen Luckett Baker grew up in Alabama with classic portraits of her brother and herself hanging in the house. She describes the paintings as realistic but soft portrayals.

"I don't think I would like a self-portrait as an adult, but I love thinking about them for my children," she says. Last year, Ellen made her own silhouettes of her daughters. If she does commission something, these artists appeal to her right now: Kiki and Polly and Middleburg Folk Art Studio.

Art is a big deal in gallery owner Emily Amy's family. Her dad is an artist, and while there was not a conventional portrait of Emily in the house when she was growing up, he once painted an oil of a seated blond when she was in high school. "It was very abstracted, but I always thought it was a representation of me."

Emily continues, "I do not currently have a portrait of myself in my [grown-up] home. Though, I have plenty of professional photographs from our wedding! I would gladly hang a portrait if I received one from an artist friend as a gift, but I doubt that I would seek one out. Also, I would feel much more comfortable if it was abstract!"

Credits:
The portraits shown at top (images one and three) are by Andrew Bucci courtesy Cole Pratt Gallery. Lee's wedding photo is from Southern Weddings.

Images four and five are courtesy Angie Hranowsky; Brie Williams photographed Angie's daughter as seen in Charleston Home. The silhouettes are courtesy Ellen Luckett Baker. The last picture is courtesy Emily Amy.

8 comments:

Karena said...

Courtney, I have never been a portrait artist, however I am loving these contemorary portraits! very light, bright and spontaneous!

Style Court said...

Oh good Karena -- there is something about the Bucci faces!

The Peak of Chic said...

I'm liking the idea of an abstract portrait. And I think Emily makes an interesting point about how an abstract might make the sitter a bit more comfortable. Heaven knows we're all worried about our hair, wrinkles, etc, etc. (Although, I shouldn't say all people, maybe just me!)

Ms. Wis./Each Little World said...

Courtney — this series is just such a fantastic read: fun, informative, thought-provoking. The two top pictures are such an interesting departure. I have a set of four professional silhouettes done of my sisters and I but even better are the big, casual grade school silhouettes. I have mine and my youngest sister's framed in "document" frames (two sheets of glass with pale wood frames) so they show the raw edges of the paper. The pair hang opposite each other in the little alcove that holds the washer and drier.

Style Court said...

Jennifer, I agree, most of us can't stand looking at a realistic version of our face!

It's less threatening, and somehow kind of poetic, to be captured a la Matisse or Picasso. Although, for other people, I admire rich, Old World-style realistic pictures.

Style Court said...

Ms. Wis,

First, thanks. I really appreciate that coming from you.

Second, I LOVE how you describe leaving the raw edges exposed. Sounds so charming and, in an unexpected way, very sophisticated.

JMW said...

Loved the post on kiki & polly - what a great site! In fact, I had to blog about it, and of course mention your fab blog as well. Cheers!

Style Court said...

Thanks JMW!