Recently I completed a commission of two-year-old Virgil Love. That's right, Virgil Love. His mom, Courtney, named him after her grandfather, and what a name it is. I'm insisting that he has to grow up and be a musician or author. No C.P.A. should ever be named Virgil Love.
I've been friends with Courtney for several years so it's a real treat to do Virgil's portrait. One day we met in my studio to talk about a commission, and she told me why it was important to her. Photos are great, but Courtney doesn't want a lot of pictures hanging on her walls – just one thing that was special and that captured her son at this time in his life. Plus, they were moving and thought it would be a great addition to their new home.
Before I begin a portrait, I always ask parents about their child's personality. It's really important to get to know the kids I paint.
Courtney said Virgil is not the kind of child who immediately gets into everything. He watches and observes before he get's comfortable in a new situation. He's very curious.
When I met him, he was shy and hesitant at first. Once he got used to me, he was tromping around the house in his red Hunter boots, stopping to play with his dinosaurs and trains. He seemed smart and serious, like he was weighing every option before making his next move.
My favorite thing is delivering the portrait and watching the child's reaction. Virgil understood that this was a portrait of himself, although he pretended is was of his mom, dad, and dog Louis.
All of the kids I meet are special in their own way. It's both challenging and fascinating for me to get to know them and express their uniqueness.
That's what my work is all about – celebrating a child and capturing them as they truly are.