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Chanit talks about painting portraits of people:
People of all ages fascinate and intrigue me. Having photographed and later painted portraits from life for over forty years, my enthusiasm is still fresh.
My wonderful instructor Robert Phillip claimed I had a distinctive knack of capturing the essential quality (not just likeness) of a person in the very first few minutes. This same assessment of my special strength was further reiterated by my friend and mentor Anthony Toney. I have been honing this special penchant by painting people — originally in oil in front of the Metropolitan Museum and later at Gurney's Inn in Montauk and Guild Hall Museum in East Hampton.
Many Special Events followed. I have been painting quick watercolor portrait sketches at numerous gala events, school fairs, at the Annual Chocolate Show in New York for six consecutive years, and at the Children's Museum of the Arts. For a day-long product promotion at their counter at Bloomingdale's, La Prairie engaged me to sketch watercolor portraits of their clientele. These quick watercolor portrait sketches, done live on the spot in 20 to 30 minutes, lend themselves well to fund raisers, parties and more, creating an exciting artistic atmosphere whenever and wherever they take place.
Children aglow with a hint of the adult they are to become in their young face. If unable to sit still, I engage them in a conversation while their portrait is emerging on the page. I do quick watercolor sketches of the little ones, usually capturing their very unique quality. I am interested in the essence of who they are, not merely their long eyelashes. These quick studies are most valued by the parents, relatives and the children themselves, especially when they witness the painting process. The process fascinates them and usually takes 15 to 30 minutes.
It has occurred to me that, although I love all faces, I have preferences. Robert Henri in his The Art Spirit refers to “My People” — the people he was inspired by. For me, a person with silver hair is compelling.
Silver Belles is an ongoing, open project. It started spontaneously with an award-winning photo of my beloved aunt Rozenka (a silver-crowned woman from young age). I find great beauty in a face framed naturally by silver — especially when the person radiates a good spirited nature and love of life. Hopefully, my project will culminate in a book interspersed with poems and short essays about the silver belles I am painting both in oil and watercolor.
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PEOPLE: Watercolor Portraits and Oil Portraits, as well as PLACES and THINGS.
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