Home Lifestyle Meet the Positive Arts Portrait Artist Reinventing a Misplaced Custom

Meet the Positive Arts Portrait Artist Reinventing a Misplaced Custom

Meet the Positive Arts Portrait Artist Reinventing a Misplaced Custom

August fifth, 2019, Pearson Worldwide airport. I used to be ready impatiently to lastly board my twice-delayed flight to New York when my cellphone started to ring. On the opposite finish was a quiet girl who spoke rapidly as she fumbled her technique to her provide of employment. Apparently, she was the “ambassador” for a really uncommon American grasp portrait artist. I used to be really useful via a collection of mutual mates. She needed me to drop all the things I used to be doing and be part of her for a couple of days in order that I may doc what she was calling “the expertise of a lifetime.” I used to be intrigued.

This mysterious caller—higher often known as Rebecca Ethan as I might come to seek out out—didn’t give me a lot data on the job or what I might really be documenting. Nor did she give me any time to react earlier than she provided me triple my common fee and a contract was ready if I accepted. How may I say no? I didn’t understand it then, however that job would turn into one of the illuminating experiences of my life.  I used to be to fulfill an eccentric, gifted portrait artist who pulled again the veil on fashionable excessive society and what it meant to be really effectively linked. 

Kevin G Saunders, photographer
Kevin G Saunders

Rebecca had a contract ready for me in my e-mail the next day, which included a non-disclosure settlement in addition to a set of directions on methods to board the non-public jet that will be ready at Buttonville Municipal Airport to fly us right down to San Antonio. I had by no means been to Texas, however when Rebecca met me she let me know we wouldn’t be in Texas for very lengthy. We have been flying down to fulfill grasp portrait artist Kevin Saunders and have his studio tools and cell showroom loaded onto the airplane. Then we might be making a fast return flight to Toronto that night in order that they may arrange for one thing they have been colloquially known as “The Grand Ol’ Portrait Get together.” 

Once I boarded the Bombardier World jet, I used the time with Rebecca to deal with asking her extra about herself and the approaching week. It turned out that Rebecca was the daughter of a rich Quebec actual property agent who was steeped in artwork historical past and gathered a gaggle of rich, well-connected Torontonians collectively to e book a portrait artist for 4 days of limitless portrait classes. Why? As a result of she had a cousin who lived in San Antonio that had been telling her about this up-and-coming artist, Kevin Saunders, who was going to take the world by storm. Kevin was, in keeping with her, a kind of uncommon skills that solely comes round each few centuries — and he or she wasn’t incorrect. Canadians had seen Yousuf Karsh, in any case, so that they knew what they noticed in Kevin.

Karim White Wall portrait by Kevin Saunders

The very definition of a contemporary Renaissance man, Kevin dropped out of highschool to drive transport vans cross nation, then studied anatomy in school—meaning to turn out to be a health care provider—earlier than abandoning that purpose to turn out to be an Olympic crusing hopeful and later orchestral musician. Kevin had transitioned into portrait images later in life after designing and promoting an airplane elevator idea to Boeing for 1.5 million and constructing a customized luxurious bicycle model. Bored along with his enterprise pursuits, he turned his focus in direction of his lifelong love of portrait artistry and set a purpose for himself to turn out to be this century’s, Yousef Karsh. He spent a few years honing his craft. 

Kevin rapidly rose to prominence within the southern United States firstly of the pandemic and produced various grand-scale high quality arts portraits for bigger than life American enterprise personalities like Henry Cisneros, Paula Gold-Williams, David Bohne, Gordon Hartman, Ben Peavy, and even former congressman’s Will Hurd and Charlie Gonzalez. That got here after this journey and Rebecca and her cousin knew one thing I didn’t. I needed to find why. Not less than that’s what I discovered myself questioning as Kevin boarded the airplane. 

Richards Family portrait by Kevin Saunders

An older, but strong-looking man of sixty-four, Kevin had the standard white hair of a person his age however the eyes of somebody a lot youthful. I’ll always remember that piercing first look he shot my means as if he already knew me. When he reached out to shake my hand I immediately knew I had met a novel individual.

Kevin needed to start our dialog by asking me about myself and my physique of labor earlier than he transitioned into his personal artistry and philosophy on how he captures an incredible portrait. “If I’m that one who is trusted to inform your story in a portrait so it lives on for generations,” he instructed me, “ then I have to be capable to create a film with one body. My portraits are extra than simply artwork to adore one’s ancestral dwelling. If a household is critical sufficient to have a narrative to stay on in a legacy—and also you and I do know most don’t—then who goes into that story turns into a part of an intergenerational story.” That was the principle concept behind this journey, and the rationale why so many rich households and people took Rebecca at her phrase when she stated, “Belief me, this man goes locations”.

Portrait by Kevin Saunders

I noticed Kevin two days later when he confirmed me round his cell portrait studio. Although it was simply arrange in a quiet rented house in North York, the place had a heat and quietness that was uncommon for portrait studios. It additionally had this vibrant power that made me smile. Kevin instructed me that individuals can really feel the power in a spot and he used that to his benefit, ensuring to set the tone of a session earlier than his purchasers walked via his door.

The tools was astonishingly skilled, past something I assumed would have been obligatory for a portrait shoot. There have been classic film lights like one would see from the ’40s and ‘50s in addition to an enormous “view digicam” that appeared like one thing out of Star Trek. All the things appeared sophisticated, however when Kevin confirmed me the way it labored, it was extremely easy. “It’s the similar in apply as the massive picket cameras 100 years in the past,” Kevin stated, “however it has a 150-megapixel sensor as a substitute of an 11 x 14-inch piece of movie.” I’d by no means seen something prefer it.

Family in library masterpiece portrait by Kevin Saunders

I’ve sat in on many “photoshoots” and what I noticed Kevin do in a portrait session was not like something I had ever seen earlier than. Kevin was trying on the topics from varied angles whereas the themes have been learning the portraits and so they have been carrying on a dialog. This went on for a half-hour or 45 minutes, after which there gave the impression to be a “good time” when the themes appeared able to step in entrance of the digicam.

I believe that is what really made him one of the best. Your entire strategy of capturing portraits was really superb to observe unfold. I used to be used to seeing photographers take a whole bunch of pictures in a photoshoot and whereas Kevin used a digicam, it was merely the instrument he used to seize the knowledge he gleaned from learning his purchasers beforehand. He someway was composing his portraits prematurely and guiding the themes to offer him the feelings he wanted to challenge a likeness onto a portrait print.

After I left the portrait shoot, I didn’t see Kevin once more till I used to be flying again to Texas two months later with Rebecca to select up the portraits. Once I lastly bought to Kevin’s studio, I had the chance to see what he did along with his off-site artistry. Whereas it took a really small period of time to create the unique pictures again in Toronto, Kevin spent days—and in some instances—weeks doing extremely detailed and exact artistry to provide a portrait that was really gorgeous.

Felicia On Wall portrait by Kevin Saunders

Kevin confirmed me a couple of of his commerce secrets and techniques, and I can see why he talked about his research of anatomy. Kevin took the imperfections that purchasers needed to have fastened and carried out a type of digital alchemy that was unimaginable. I bought to see the “earlier than” and “after” and after I noticed the completed product for Rebecca, my jaw dropped. Kevin stated, “If I have been to color you, I wouldn’t put these particulars into the portray, so if I’m portray with mild, I’ll use the identical interpretation and also you get to decide on the way in which you want to be remembered.” What struck me was the truth that the ultimate photographs didn’t look “photoshopped” however simply seemed “proper.” 

That could be his best-kept commerce secret. He makes use of his expertise and former life expertise making ready to turn out to be a health care provider to change his portraits in such a means that the figures portrayed come to life. This was after I realized he was reviving a human custom that has fallen away as we’ve modernized — the high quality arts portrait.

Kevin’s work is seen at www.kgsstudios.com the place you’ll be able to view his whole portfolio.


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