Self Portrait
Ian Stietencron - Portrait Artist

"A Portrait lasts longer than a lifetime".

This famous quote is so true. Ian has a portrait of his great great grandfather, which was painted by a well known 19th century portrait painter. It is a wonderful reminder of his family history.

Ian von Stietencron studied at Hornsey College of art in London and has painted portraits in America, Europe and the UK, his place of birth.

His working experience, as an artist and graphic designer started in London, working on film publicity for the Rank Organization.

Ian Stietencron -
Portrait Artist

Although this position gave him access to glamorous film premiers and lavish publicity stunts, his love of art and illustration guided him towards becoming an independent Portrait artist. Ian has worked for many years as a freelance artist, producing prints for publishing companies (one retrospectively of the Queen, as Princess Elizabeth).

During the time between now and his college days Ian has always painted portraits, but more recently he has become interested in painting contemporary work as a complete contrast to portraiture. He says, the challenge of producing something completely original is both exciting and stimulating.

The Portrait Artist

A portrait artist in the 21st century is a far cry from the old masters of the past.

Before the invention of photography an artist was the only means by which a person could have their face and figure recorded for their own pleasure, for future generations and of course for posterity.

When we view some of the great portraits of the past , they always reveal one thing. The subjects lives were scrutinized and then etched into every stroke of paint taken from the artist's palette as the portrait slowly evolved. How can a photograph of a person's image, even when taken by a prominent photographer, compete with a great portrait painted in oils.

Being a portrait painter myself, it is my belief that photography with all of its recent technical advances, diverse uses and wonderful results, still only captures the physical exterior of the person or subject photographed. A camera can't talk to its subject but it can lie and often does.

To be painted by a good portrait artist is the only way to leave more than just an image for your family and descendants. A painting can illuminate a person's life and express so much more to the viewer, because each and every brush stroke has been imparted with a great love of art, a deep understanding of the sitter's background and a finite judgement of colour. A person's image and persona will be determined by another gifted human being and not an indiscriminate machine.

A portrait artist like myself has an obvious bias and it would be foolish of me to pretend otherwise, but I believe the portrait, particularly oil on canvas will be with us for many more generations. It is the only way a visual analysis of one person by another can be created to determine a clear but complex interpretation of another human being. The portrait artist makes conscious and unconscious decisions during a sitting about their subjects inner and outer personality. These decisions are formed from a talent to observe and an ability to understand and interpret the innermost soul of a sitter and represent that information in the form of a portrait.

People seem to be be convinced that a photograph is better than a painted portrait because it is more accurate. It is fact and it analyzes every facet of the subject before the cameras lens. This could not be further from the truth. By way of its simplicity, It records the superficial physical form of its subject and ignores the real person inside. As computers cannot think, cameras cannot investigate their subjects.

To leave your children a portrait in oils by a good portrait artist should be the goal of deep thinking person. We need to be remembered and understood by our nearest and dearest. How can a photograph enrich our grandchildren's memories? It touches the memory but not the soul.

Ironically most portrait artists, myself included use the camera as a tool to help interpret and record their sitter's image for studio work when the sitter is not available. I also use a digital camera and photoshop to spawn new ideas when I am creating abstract or semi-abstract work. I am not against photography in any way. It is one of the worlds greatest inventions and gives so much pleasure to so many people. It is the best way to record our lives from the cradle to the grave, but portrait painting can live along side photography and is as important today as it has ever been in the past and must never be lost to technology.

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