In October of last year, I was hired to paint a portrait of Ron Conway, a successful Silicon Valley investor. Artist, Elizabeth Cayne, connected me with people from the Emerson Collective, Palo Alto. The Emerson Collective, a non-profit that supports social entrepreneurs and others in education, social justice and conservation, was founded by Laurene Powell Jobs (widow of Steve Jobs).
My clients gave a photograph by Cody Pickens to work from. Upon looking at the photograph I decided that a darker more earthy toned background would be better for the painting. One request by my clients was that painting should look like a 19th century portrait. I also looked at a number of other photos of Ron Conway to gain a better understanding of his features. It would have been ideal to take the reference photos myself but this portrait was to be a surprise gift and there were time constraints.
I had to adjust my way of working a bit because I had not been in the habit of making flattering portraits. Most of my figurative works bring out the figure’s vulnerabilities and are also looser in style. By contrast, I feel that the Ron Conway portrait displays boldness and strength. It is also monumental; literally larger than life. I also feel that seriousness in Conway’s face sells the humor of the image.
I recently saw the short writeup about the painting on TechCrunch.com (http://techcrunch.com/2012/12/14/ron-conway-the-painting/). Judging from the photos, Conway seemed to like the painting so I guess it was a success!