Christine Swann | The Stories Behind Portraits

Artist Christine Swann paints portraits that tell the stories of subjects of every age and gender, each one a subtle narrative that glows with a careful mastery of the pigment. Her pastel, Determined, for example, is a painting of Swann’s son that took shape as he painted beside her on his own little easel.

Swann-Determined-pastel

Determined (pastel) by Christine Swann

The Story Behind Determined
Swann was amazed that her son had the same determined look on his face as he worked that she knew she had on hers. “The painting is not really about him, but about the focus he had,” the artist says. “I tried getting photos of him painting, but I could never really clearly ‘see’ the look he got on his face until I thought about how the painting sees him. Then the idea came to paint him through his artwork. I knew how I wanted him posed before I even worked with him. Then I gave him a piece of Plexiglas and some oil pastels. He scribbled on them and I shot my beginning references of him through the Plexiglas set up on an easel.”

To capture the character of a subject, Swann may turn to a unique prop or garment or perhaps an intriguing pose, as is evident in the following paintings.

Strands-pastel-Christine-Swann

Strands (pastel) by Christine Swann

I Didn't Do It-pastel-portrait-Christine-Swann

I Didn’t Do It (pastel) by Christine Swann

To read more about her work, her approach to color selection, and to see a step-by-step demonstration, see the October 2016 issue of Pastel Journal.

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