It was logical… my column in an art magazine should not show my photo, it should be a painting. We started putting out feelers about who was good, who was hot, who was up and coming and who fit the style of our magazine. It was Timothy R. Thies.
"I don’t paint from photos.. or at least I prefer not to. When can you fly up to see me," said Timothy. A couple weeks later I arrived in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho at Timothy’s studio. We had a cup of coffee, I checked my email and then it was time… sit still for several hours.
I’m a portrait painter myself but most of my work has not been "from life" and I have never been on the other side of the brush. I had no idea what to expect and I found the experience to be better than expected. I sat very still at the same angle for about six hours with a break every couple of hours. Many portrait artists don’t want you to talk. Fortunately Timothy Thies was an exceptionally nice man and was willing to chat throughout the whole day. When was the last time you got to chat casually for eight hours with someone you barely knew, someone who lived the life of an artist? I think that was the best part. A new friend, new thoughts and ideas and a chance to learn a lot about his life, his experiences and his thoughts on just about everything, including art.
There is something very special about seeing your portrait beautifully framed and hanging in your home and knowing it might hang somewhere for hundreds of years… especially when it is painted by a fine, highly regarded artist like Timothy Thies.
For hundreds of years the only way to record a likeness was through portraiture. Even after photography was invented the wealthy aristocrats in France and the US continued the practice. It is a wonderful experience to visit someones home and see portraits of past relatives lining the walls. Oil portraits are so much more elegant than photographs.
Most portraits today tend to be of captains of industry for corporate board rooms or private clubs, college presidents, supreme court justices and U.S. presidents. Though some wealthy people I know have been preserved in oils it is a very small percentage. Frankly, I’d like to see more of it. Oil portraiture is a fine tradition that will have a life longer than any photo and a chance it won’t get shoved in a drawer after you’re gone. I highly recommend it.
– Eric Rhoads
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