My goal when I approach a portrait, either commissioned or non-commissioned, is to exercise empathy. My job is to relate to my subject, to feel what they feel, as I am expressing it in paint. The way I practice empathy in a realistic rendering is to be honest, without exaggeration. My goal is to celebrate the humanity of my subject without making our differences “ugly.” I tend to create every face “in my own image,” while at the same time delighting in our differences. I want to be true to what I see but inventive and creative in how I express it. In short, the love and intense focus on my subject, adopting their presence, their energy, their attitude, their relationship to the world, allows me to notice certain details, while leaving out others. This helps me get to the essential truth of the subject. This, I believe, is what separates my work as a painter from that of a photographer or a photo-realist. I’d like to think it is my love and connection with others that sets my work apart and gives it depth.