August 16, 2008 (CHAPEL HILL, NC) — When fine artist Kimberly A. Alvis of Chapell Hill, NC, recently completed a portrait commission for Ann Engles, also of Chapel Hill, she discussed the challenge it presented and the process she goes through to paint a family portrait.
“Ann hired me to do a family portrait from a photograph taken in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico,” she said. “Working from a photograph isn’t unusual. The challenge for me was that I didn’t take the photo myself. When I do my own photography, I’m seeing the details and nuances in person, which I can recall later in my studio.”
Fortunately, this particular photograph offered “great composition,” she said, “of the family sitting around a pool with the children splashing in the water.”
She approached it as she would any painting: “First I decide how I want the viewer’s eye to move through the painting, and I determine my center of interest and find good colors and shapes. Then I proceed to lay these elements in, in a very abstract manner.”
Yet the most important skill in a painting of figures in a landscape, she said, is drawing. “It is the foundation of the painting. And as I paint in details, I remain very focused on the composition because details draw one’s eye to that area. I must keep asking myself: How important is this area to the composition?”
Alvis first studied portrait painting at the Art Students League 10 years ago. She admits that her focus has shifted since then to landscapes and still life “because I love it more. It’s important to paint what you love most.”
Originally from Staten Island, New York, Kimberly Alvis graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 1987 with a B. A. in Art. Since then she has studied at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts, the Fechin Institute in New Mexico, The Ecole Albert Defois School in France, and The Art Students League and Parson’s School of Design in New York City.
Her work has been exhibited internationally at such venues as at The Art Students League, The Salmagundi Club and the Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit, all in New York City, and the Huntsman Fine Arts Gallery in Aspen, Colorado.
Alvis is represented by Somerhill Gallery in Durham and The Little Art Gallery and Craft Collection in Raleigh. For more information and to see more of the artist’s work, visit http://www.alvisart.com.