Elena     Oil On Linen     11in. X 18in.




This is a very special portrait of a beautiful little girl named Elena.  I met Elena a few years ago when she was a flower girl at a friend’s wedding.  I noticed how beautiful she was then, running around the reception in a flowing white dress with lovely large eyes, soft bouncing brown curls, and full rosy pink cheeks that anyone who met her would want to pinch.  Even then I thought I would like to paint her someday.  There was just something about her.


Sadly, Elena passed away in 2010. At the funeral there was a video of her playing outside.  She looked stunning and I was absolutely memorized by the movement of her golden curls flowing in the wind as she blew bubbles and sweetly chatted away with the cameraman.  Later, I requested a copy of the video with the intention and hope that I would somehow be able to get a still from it and create a portrait. Although I typically do not work from existing photos due to lighting and resolution issues, this was a special situation and I was very inspired by the video.  There were only two segments that were usable, under a minute total, but there were over 1,000 frames to select from once it was slowed down.  The composition was a composite from multiple frames.  I isolated her from the original brick building and colorful table cloth covered in cups so that there would be less distraction from her face.   I added the natural greenery of her back yard from a separate image and I pieced together parts of her hair and dress to extend the canvas since the original image was a tight close up.


The overall effect that I wanted to convey was the warmth felt by the day.  The intense light that enveloped her was descriptive of her sunny personality and symbolic.  The yellow heat from the sun assisted the strong backlit highlights that illuminated her hair as the soft breeze blew her curls about.  The bouncing daylight reflected complimentary blue and purple tones to light up her skin with soft color.  

I must have watched that video of Elena a hundred times as I studied the expressions on her face, frame by frame.  I could almost tell what she was thinking after a while.  Every time I could not help but giggle out loud to myself as she made a face, flashed a big cheesy smile, and moved in slowly to the lens.  I hesitated only for a second before I decided to do this portrait, concerned that it would be too hard or emotional but throughout the process, it never was.  It was so obviously a celebration of her life.  We all must leave this world, the time we have on it just varies.  But what death can never take away is how beautiful and sweet she was in her time spent on this earth nor can it erase how she lives on in the memory of all those who knew her.  This image will be a wonderful way to remember her, happy in her home, surrounded by warmth, light, and love.