Facing You
When I started I didn’t fully understand painting is an endeavor in which you never reach the end. The process is always changing in ways that surprise and one is always learning. I don’t think of my work so much as “portraiture”, but I’m comfortable with the word “figurative”.  The figures in my paintings are parts of a larger composition in which the human shapes fit with other shapes both positive and negative to assemble a whole image. A painting is a construct and that opens the door to many freedoms within the process.  My paintings evolve over time and often the most difficult part is destroying pleasing parts of a painting that don’t work because they take away from the larger composition. Sometimes one must abandon the entire painting and start over from the beginning, but that is also part of the learning process. In the end the mark making is what counts. How the smudging or blurring of a line into another line, or the blending of one color into another color, or the underpainting coming through the image. These things give the painting its meaning.
-Reed Clarke
Facing You
I usually paint animals, so when I approach painting people portraits, I tend to put the same lens on.  People are animals, after all, but most of us don’t like to think of it that way. All of the people I paint are people who love the earth, love plants and animals and love the incredible intelligences of living things.  They are people who tend to bring gifts, and give thanks for life.
The description “environmental activist” lacks poetry and magic. It sounds clinical.  The portrait series I have been working on over the past few years always has something to do what is happening to the earth, and what happens to the earth happens to us.  As Barry Lopez says, “For some people, who they imagine they are does not end where the boundary of the skin meets the world.  It continues with the reach of their sense out into the land.  If the land in which they live summarily disfigured or reorganized by industrial development, it causes them psychological pain”. It is compassionate and right to act. Lovers of the earth maybe a better description than environmental activist, but language just doesn’t do the feeling justice.
Some of the people in the series I know (one is my daughter) and some of them I have only read or read about. I can imagine doing these portraits for a long time because there is no shortage of courage required to be a person at this time in history. There are so many to choose from.  Painting and sensing are an act of recognition.  Painting is a way of saying “I see you.”  I see the amazing and magical creatures that we are. 
-Denise Monaghan
Facing You
I have been making art my entire life and I have always been drawn to the figure, both human and animal and often the two together. To me, painting a portrait is not only about the sitter but equally about the artist as well. I see myself in the images I make and I think about the human condition. I think of our feelings about what is happening around us, our relationship to the other creatures we share this world with and our existence and effect on our environment.
At the same time, I feel a portrait should be a work of art in itself. I love to push around paint, layer and build, sand and refine. I am enticed by realism but wild with color. I strive to create flow and depth and to think about light, shapes and pattern. Most of all, when I paint portraits, I love that moment when the sitter comes alive, when the eyes begin to see things I can’t see and don’t know and have feelings that are not mine. 
I’ve grown up and lived my entire life in Oregon. I studied painting and printmaking at Pacific Northwest College of Art from 2000 to 2004. After college I traveled to Iceland and found myself inspired to work with wool fiber, first creating wet felted functional objects and then needle felted sculptures.  Upon returning home I worked full time for nearly ten years making needle felted portraits of people’s beloved dogs. Today I create work in many mediums and have a strong drive to make objects and art that generate an emotional response of relation from the viewer.
-Amelia Santiago
Facing You
This small collection of paintings begins to explore a sense of bearing witness to ourselves. These paintings reflect on feelings that arise from simple noticing of our experiences and how it affects our thoughts and bodies but also the spaces and people around us. What we may come to notice, hold, carry or reflect and how those things manifest in our lives often unrevealed to ourselves until we discover new ways of seeing and being in the spheres we create.
I made a conscious decision to work and explore a different process in my paintings this year. I began to work a bit larger which led to less alla prima work and painting more in layers over weeks or months. I felt the slightly larger format and painting in layers allowed me to pan out a bit in both view and concept for the work. Allowing the painting to evolve in a much more fluid and flexible way maintaining space for the work to evolve as it informs me during the process.
-Aaron Toledo