With Mother's day just around the corner, I thought this post should feature a charcoal painting portraying the mother of a very important woman in the premium toy industry. When I first saw the photo of her mom, I was taken aback by the life in her eyes because her inner personality was glowing.
The difficulty in most portraits is trying to put life into someone’s eyes when there isn’t much there; in this case, the challenge was actually capturing the abundance of life already in her eyes—the essence of her vibrant personality that made her such a unique individual.
This prominent lady shared some powerful memories of her childhood during a speech to members of the toy industry. It took courage to mention how her mom overcame life’s adversities to care for her family in a way that had deeply profound results. All of this, of course, inspired me to paint the piece shown above.
There were many details in her mother’s face, which show the beauty and also the burden inherent in photography—too many factual details tend to lessen the overall emotional impact. The very nature of visual design goes beyond the external facts to capture raw emotion and depth.
As in all industrial design and conceptual art, you have to edit—choose the most important and lose the rest. This is a brutal process. Deciding what is in, and what is out, can only be done when you aim for the heart of the matter—the essence of the image.
What impacted me most about her mom was how her eyes revealed her heart, so that’s what I set out to capture. You can’t trace that. You can’t intellectualize it either. You have to dig deep to make a connection and only keep details that serve to bring the specific inner nature forward to the viewer.
When you push yourself to capture the magic, the fun and play that is the essence of toy design, your work will do more than serve as a blueprint along the production pipeline—it will inspire and help every area of the manufacturing process transcend the ordinary with extraordinary.