Cast of Characters

Portraits have always been about more than ink and paint to me. Part of what sparked my interest in them was finding ways to show the idiosyncrasies of the people around me. Things like the curve of a nose or how someone’s chin sits against their cheek, or in this instance, how much they really do look like their pet.

It all starts with a simple pencil drawing. I outline the shape of the head and the slope of the shoulders. Then I fill it in with facial features, hair, clothes, and all the little details that make each person uniquely them. After one sketch comes another, where I work out more of the small details and hone in on how to really portray a person—that is as long as my cats don’t try to help. As soon as I’m happy with the sketch’s resemblance, I trace it onto watercolor paper and then my brushes go to work. When the portrait is full of color, I create line work with a felt tipped pen and then scan the portrait, and  corrections are made. At some point, between when the lead hits the paper and a finished portrait is still warm off the printer, a personality is captured in ink and paint.

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Doing portraits is always an interesting journey. There have been many times where I’ve learned a lot more about someone than expected along the way. In this instance, as a newer member of the Composure staff, it allowed me to get to know my coworkers a little faster than I would have otherwise. With some people, working on their portrait sparked conversation revealing hobbies and interests unseen in the workplace. With others, jokes were made and their sense of humor was revealed. With some, I learned about procrastination while waiting for photos (Pete….).

Overall, the experience of creating these portraits was insightful, revealed commonality, and most importantly, was fun.

As it’s an ongoing project, stay tuned for the next wave of portraits to be released in the future…

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— Stephanie Marie Steinhauer

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