Acrylic and gold leaf on canvas, 2005
Collection of the artist
Nicholas is a long-term survivor of AIDS and lymphoma, and attributes his recovery to the combination of Western medicine and Tibetan Buddhist practice. He has taught me a lot through his patience with physical suffering and his ability to just let go and trust in the moment. I painted Nicholas to discover more about him. Who would emerge? I also wanted his peacefulness and strength to affect the people who will meet him only through his painted image. Meditation is an important part of my creative process. As I meditate and paint, I invite in the qualities and energy that most want to be expressed in the portrait, and trust what comes through. I actually prefer interacting with the portrait itself, rather than with a living, breathing subject sitting in my studio. I usually paint the eyes first. When the eyes are laid in, the energy starts pouring from the canvas. Each time that happens, I feel the same fresh amazement and delight as another remarkable human being starts to appear before me. Painting someone’s portrait is one way I can connect with and care for them.