The Weight of the World

The Weight of the World – Figurative Oil Painting 11×14 by Winifred Whitfield

I painted this portrait during the time of the Tokyo Olympic Games. It portrays an emotion of the almost unbearable, whether it be sheer exhaustion, pain, sadness, defeat or even in the case of Simone Biles, “the twistees”. I’m sure this was an emotion that many of the athletes experienced at one time or another, as we all have in our lives.

As far as Simone Biles is concerned, I’m very proud of her decision to limit her performances in order to take care of mental and physical self. I hope we are all able to grow to to do the same.

I took many photos of this young lady with the intention of adding to my photo reference collection. I have many beautiful portraits of her. They are NORMAL beautiful portraits. Somehow, for reasons I cannot remember, I saw her hands go up to her face. It was not a pose I had created – not sure how it happened but I ask her immediately to repeat the action. I saw something special in it and more importantly I FELT something. Though I otherwise have some stunning photos of her, I immediately knew this was the pose I wanted to paint. It was so full of emotion. Hope you enjoy. Winifred

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Did I ever tell you how difficult it is to paint portraits with accuracy of image likeness. Well, it really is difficult. There are so many nuances of tonal values, of color, techniques designed to tell you what moves forward and what’s in back and how the planes of the face turn. Spending 40 to 50 hours on a portrait is the usual.  It is intricate and the detail can be tedious – if the portrait is in anyway realistic.  At the same time I marvel when one is complete and I know I have done my very best.  With each painting there is something I learn and can take into the next painting.  No matter how difficult, I always look forward to the next.

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