The tradition of painted portraits extends back through thousands of years of human history. Even in this modern age of digital media there remains a strong cultural and personal response to the painted human face, as opposed to the image of it that can be recorded by video or the camera.
A photograph can capture a moment in time, an impression of a person on a given day, at a certain hour, a certain age, whereas a painted portrait can capture a sense of not only the visual likeness of a person, but a sense of their physical presence, their character and unique personality in an all encompassing way that is difficult to capture by any other means. A painted portrait can give a sense of the sitter located not only in space, but in time, combining a series of impressions rather than a single one, to capture a range of gestures, moods and expressions so that the finished work is a truly representative impression of the person, in all their varied aspects.
Painted portraits are commissioned by all sorts of people for many different reasons. To commemorate special events, a pregnancy, birth, christening, 21st or other significant birthday, an engagement, a wedding, anniversary, retirement, or just to record the face of a special person at a certain age.
Parents often commission portraits of their children, to preserve those beautiful stages of childhood, or to give as a gift to a spouse or grandparent. Husbands commission portraits of wives, and wives of husbands, families often choose to be painted as a group, couples might pose together.
Sophie Haythornthwaite received her technical training in Florence, Italy, where she studied the techniques of the old masters at Charles H Cecil Studios. She continues to paint using the traditional methods and materials of the Italian, French and Dutch painters of the Renaissance and Baroque.
Sophie uses high quality painting materials that she prepares herself in her studio, grinding her own pigments and preparing her own canvases, mediums and varnishes using traditional methods and recipes. Not only does this practice allow for a more complete control over the performance and quality of one's materials, it also enables the artist to achieve specific painterly effects used by the masters, the subtleties of which are often difficult to achieve using synthetic modern materials.