Portrait: Artist must be in touch with the person

"Love Note to Daddy" ~Michela from the Bayou

"Love Note to Daddy" ~Michela from the Bayou


When considering an artist...

Johanna Fowler sees so much when she looks into the portrait she had painted of herself and her daughter Savannah.

The chair her 6 year-old is sitting in is the one Fowler's mother rocked her in when she herself was a baby.  On the table in the portrait there's a picture of Fowler's mother and grandmother.  Beside it are a rose from a bush Fowler was given as a wedding present and a silver hairbrush her husband gave her when they got married.

But most of all, there's Savannah. "And when you look at it (the portrait)," Fowler said, "if you look around us- just let your eyes follow around our heads - it makes the shape of a heart."

Mitchell's husband, Jim Ostlund painted the portrait of the Pughs' children.  Ostlund and his wife Michele Mitchell Ostlund have similar training in the Old Master style and often make suggestions on each other's portraiture.  Every commission they have received has been for a different reason, but the buyers typically share one thing, Michele Ostlund said.

"They want to keep that feeling of people they love around them for all time," she said.  with a portrait, "you can feel their presence, whether they're there or not."

Two years ago, Terry Davis, an Asheville resident who now lives in Connecticut, had Jim Ostlund paint her daughter Audrey, who was then 8.  Ostlund knew Audrey well, and it shows in her portrait, Audrey's mother said, "The artist must be in touch with the person," Davis said.  "That way they capture the real life of a person.  Audrey (in the painting), she just looks like Audrey."

by Tom Clark ~The Citizen Times, Asheville