Capturing a Person’s Essence through Portraiture

by Brenna Kehew Sculley

by Amber Edwards
AI is amazing, and to deny that would be foolish, but… it is not the be-all-end-all, especially in the art world.
Is it of course incredible that you can generate an AI portrait worthy of your LinkedIn profile pic? Without the hassle of getting yourself made up and awkwardly posing for a professional photographer that you’ve likely paid an arm and a leg for, you too can have a computer generate a professional image of you, using any selfie you can snap.
You can have AI generate an image of your pet as a king on a throne, or among the stars in space. You can have AI fine-tune your flaws so that you’re smoother than any amount of Botox can achieve. The possibilities are endless, and yet…
In a saturated world of anything and everything at all times, the most elusive thing is authenticity, something a computer program can never quite achieve. Now that the immediate novelty has worn off, there is something cheugy about the end results. (Cheugy, if you don’t know, is a description of lifestyle trends associated with the early 2010s, that embody an aesthetic often described as “the opposite of trendy” or “trying too hard”.) This indescribable “ick” is making many realize the importance of authentic art.
Anyone who has commissioned a portrait knows the amazing experience of getting to know the artist and the process of a consultation with a painter or photographer envisioning your art. There is the bubbling anticipation of the reveal, the reveal itself, and the reaction when people have seen their portrait for the first time that all contribute to an incredible wholly artistic experience. True portraits create a conversation piece and are one-of-a-kind to be handed down for generations.
Artists have reinvented and are always reinventing and portraiture is no exception. Some would say that figurative painting is (and has been) having a renaissance, and now is the time to commission a modern portrait. There are so many unique styles and artists to choose from.
Norwegian artist Henrik Uldalen is known for his thick impasto paint applications and the faces and figures in his paintings are often obscured by large paint blobs or slowly dissolved into the dark background, making a very unique and contemporary commission. Ghanaian-born artist Sam Adoquei has stunning portraits in a soft impressionistic style waiting to be commissioned. Julia Condon creates stunningly beautiful and authentic portraits, and James Coreth can make anyone look like royalty.
The options of artists are endless, and part of the fun is choosing someone who reflects your style. The best way to support art and artists, while getting the experience of a lifetime and a heirloom piece of art, is to forego the easy way out and don’t turn to AI. Turn to authenticity, turn to experience, and embrace the slowness of true art.

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