Abstract Portrait Mike and Mom

The next step in my process of abstracting the emotions from an early photograph of Mike and Mom (see yesterday’s post), is to paint with a broad brush (literally).  For me, the salient features in the original photograph my brother’s eye and my mother’s smile.  Mike is probably about 12 years old here. Mike is my older brother, who is autistic, low functioning and has never spoken.

This is the first stage of the study:

Watercolor: Abstract - Mike and Mom Portrait

Abstracted Mike and Mom Portrait – Stage 1

I filled in the details in the next stage.

Watercolor: Abstract - Mike and Mom Portrait Final

Abstracted Mike and Mom
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

I wanted to emphasize the hug, so I outlined it in charcoal. Mike’s eye seems fearful, which isn’t the exact emotion I wanted to convey. I paid more attention to that than his mouth in this study. As for my mother, she has a genuine smile in the photo. But I know how much of a heartbreak Mike was to her and how she was angry at the situation at times. It seems that my skill in not painting true likenesses came in handy today. The caricature of Mom’s mouth and her downcast eyes tell a story more truthful to me than the photograph.

Photograph: Vintage Photo of Mike and Mom

Mike and Mom
Photograph on Bond Paper

2 thoughts on “Abstract Portrait Mike and Mom

    • Thank you for commenting, Charlotte. Not many people notice Mike’s fist in that photo, but it is an integral part of it. Both my parents tried their best. Nothing stopped them from their enjoyment of music. They had season’s tickets for The Metropolitan Opera, and I got to go with them on many occasions. Music did reach Mike for a short time.
      Thanks again!


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