I painted this portrait on July 6, 2013, which was the hottest day of the year up to that point.
My model Jari was a very good sport considering the sweltering summer heat. Her husband Mark, who took many of these pictures, also suffered through the weather patiently.
Jari and I have a very playful relationship, and we often joke around. She has a way of walking where she stops in mid-step and turns her head. It reminds me of Manet’s “Boy with a Sword.” That inspired this painting and its pose. The background of the Manet is very dark, and I wanted to invert that. I asked her to wear her wedding dress and carry flowers in place of the sword.
Prior to painting, I made some study drawings to work out the composition and color relationships. I painted a back drop and draped it across the studio. Jari took the pose in the backdrop, and then I painted her directly in one long session.
From the artist's statement on portraits:
The portraits are of friends and family. The poses and environments make reference to various sources from the history of painting. I take a very intuitive approach to this. I look for a pose that works for that particular person. When selecting an environment I try to find sources that relate to my experience of the subject. The pose and the background are not always from the same source. The most important thing is that it feels right. My intention is not to recreate or update paintings from the past. Rather I am interested in making connections from my relationship with my subjects to my experience of the history of painting. After I find an environment I paint a very loose and simplified backdrop based on it. When the sitter comes to the studio I pose them in the environment (backdrop) and paint them directly in natural light. I do my best to complete the painting in one session. I want to the painting to be fresh and not labored.
Jari, 2013, oil on canvas, 84x48 in.
Kerry Law lives in Ridgewood, Queens and maintains a studio in the Pencil Factory in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. To view more of Law's work follow the link here.