THE ART OF BUYING ART: The Personality Portraits

THE ART OF BUYING ART: The Personality Portraits--Large Wall Art
The Request:


“I love your artwork and I had a crazy idea. I have three grown children and I would like a painting of each of them that will hang together like a triptych over my 16-foot couch, so they have to be large. And I want the paintings to be like portraits, but not of their faces like usual portraits, but rather the paintings should reflect their three very distinctive and different personalities and be in your style of work. Can you do that?”


Say What? I must admit that this request was so unusual it scared me a bit. I actually do paint portraits, but the client did not want a normal portrait. She wanted my style of painting to reflect the personality of each of her three grown daughters.

I said that I would consider this but that first I would need her to fully describe the personalities of each of her daughters so I could try to imagine how to create such a triptych. You see, with a triptych, dnot only does each painting have to stand on its own and be properly reflective of each child’s personality but, all three painting have to work together as they will be hanging next to each other. There needs to be an overall “family” thread to the images. So this is really like creating 4 paintings!

As we spoke, I discovered that they were born in Singapore and Singaporean families often give their children what I would call a “sub name”. In this case they all used the word “Dawn”. The oldest was “Tinted Clouds of Dawn”, the middle child was “Dawn Glow” and the youngest was “Dawn Blossom”.

Ok, well that gave me some direction and I can see now why the client chose my style of painting for this endeavor.

We of course had a discussion of what size canvas we should use for each and determined that based on the size of the couch and the height of the ceiling we should go with square canvases of 40”x40”. Thus three of that size would effectively take up 10 feet of space over the 16-foot couch which is good percentage.

Next, I started doing lots of research on dawn and, believe it or not, I found out that there are three phases of dawn. The start of dawn is called Astronomical Dawn. Next is Nautical Dawn and finally, just before sunrise, there is Civil Dawn.


Here is a graphic that shows the three stages and the colours associated with each phase. Note that the words Twilight and Dawn are used interchangeably.


 THE ART OF BUYING ART: The Personality Portraits--Large Wall Art


So, I then knew that the oldest child would be first as Astronomical Dawn and thus have a palette in the dark blue, indigo and violet colour range. The next child would be Nautical Dawn and have a mix of blues, lavenders and some magentas and the youngest Dawn Blossom would have the bold oranges and yellows, surrounded by some of the previously used darker colours.

The bonus was that their personalities also matched the colours of their phase of dawn!

Finally, in order to show that they were all from the same family I made sure the horizons lines were all in the same position on each painting.

And here they are:


 THE ART OF BUYING ART: The Personality Portraits--Large Wall Art  THE ART OF BUYING ART: The Personality Portraits--Large Wall Art  THE ART OF BUYING ART: The Personality Portraits--Large Wall Art


The client was ecstatic and so were her daughters.

Here is what she said:

Dan is wonderful to work with!
I had a complicated idea that I wanted him to depict in a triptych ie 3 paintings.

He was so patient with me as I dithered with sending him details and ideas of how I wanted them to be.

He spent so much energy on absorbing what I wanted, consulting with me all the time as the concepts grew in his mind.
And worked with me to refine the details once he had put brush to canvas!!!

I’m delighted with the outcome, as are my friends and family who have seen the paintings. He captured the spirit I wanted in the 3 paintings perfectly!

He even came and hung them for me!!! Always a chore I dread!

A thoroughly enjoyable and enriching experience to work with you Dan! Thank you for sharing a bit of yourself with us!


So, if you have a similar idea for a portrait give me a call!






Dan is a Toronto based award winning artist who has been painting for over 25 years. Dan’s passion is interpreting the primordial images of sky, horizon and water as viewed through the child-like-eyes of our prehistoric ancestors…images which are now burned into our modern collective unconscious. Dan imagines how these images were experienced and translates them into an atmospheric, minimalistic and somewhat surrealistic style representing the essence of what has enthralled us for millennia. Collectors of Dan’s artwork often describe the visual experience as: “Walking into a dream. This is the most serene, peaceful and ethereal art we have ever seen."